Home    Workshops    Members Only    Contests    Join    Contact us                       RWA Chapter

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Three Tips on Revising Your Work

Please welcome guest blogger E.D. Walker

A few months ago I sent my first novella to Carina Press with high hopes.

And now, to begin my sad tale of woe: they didn’t buy the book. Alack. Alas. Ah, but here’s the silver lining: it wasn’t a flat-out rejection either. They sent a revise and resubmit letter.

Maybe some of you have been in this boat before, but even if you’ve never gotten the ol’ Revise & Resubmit there comes a time in every author’s life where they need to revise their work. Whether because of an editor or critique partner’s suggestions or because they want to morph Draft One into something new and wonderful for Draft Two.

So, in that spirit, here are a three useful tips I’ve picked up as I battled through my own revisions:

Pick one note at a time and work through it.

Don’t try to work on every single note from an editorial letter all at once. Pick one element you need to work on. Make the villain more threatening, or less or scarier or whatever and just work on that as you make your first pass. Do this with all the other editorial notes separately. Go through the MS and work through one note at a time. Don’t worry about making the villain scarier and the heroine smarter and the hero sexier all at once.

-Bonus tip: Sometimes it helps to highlight what new material you’ve added to help yourself keep track. So anytime you add something new about the villain, for example, highlight it. This way, when you look back through, you have an easy way to reference if you’ve been consistent in your changes throughout the manuscript, or if you might have missed a section.

Don’t make changes to your book that you don’t agree with.

I was lucky. I agreed with everything the editor told me, and they were changes I was eager to make. I’ve received editorial letters and critiques before, though, where I didn’t agree with a single note, changes which would have compromised my own vision for the book.

This is a hard one because everyone wants to sell their work. It’s easy to think, ‘Well, if I just change it then the book could sell!’ But do you want to sell a book you yourself don’t like anymore? You might not even be able to make a change work in the book if you don’t in your heart of hearts agree with it.

Many times, also, you will receive conflicting notes. One crit partner will love your brittle but vulnerable antihero and the other might think he’s a bitchy cry-baby. Ultimately, you have to trust your gut. Don’t change your book if you don’t honestly agree with the note.

Side note: If many readers are all telling you the same thing then that might be an instance of it is your book, not them. There are times when the writer is wrong. If everyone you show the story to tells you they hate the same thing then take another look at that section. That many varying people coming to the same conclusion probably means something is wrong there. It might not be what everyone tells you is wrong, but if lots of readers are pointing there and saying, ‘This doesn’t work’ then it doesn’t work, and you need to figure out why and how to fix it.

Put the book down and walk away for awhile

Ultimately, if you remain blocked on changing the book you just might have to take a break from it altogether. Put the revisions aside. Watch a movie. Knit. Play with the dog. You might even have to work on a brand new story to cleanse your mental palate.

To bring this blog entry full circle, I remained horribly blocked on making revisions to my novella for Carina. Even though they were things I agreed with. I think because I had spent too much time editing the book. It was done in my head. And I was more than a little sick of it, truth be told. I had no new inspiration, no story ideas that would let me make the necessary changes.

So, what did I do? I put it aside for a month and wrote a brand new book. This is a little extreme as a solution, I admit, but, hey, I’ve got another fresh MS out of the deal and I’m now bursting with ideas to tackle my edits. I can’t say for sure that Carina will want my MS this time around, but I know it will be a better book once I’m done with this round of revisions.

E.D. Walker is a SoCal native with a BA in English Lit from Berkeley (GO BEARS!) who came of age with her nose stuck in a book and an obese cat kneading his claws in her lap. These days her nose is glued to her laptop as she pounds out her latest manuscript, and the obese cat, well, he just has to lie in wait until she goes to bed so he can knead his claws in her shoulder at 3am. And drool.

She has two fantasy romance novels available now as eBooks: a sweet paranormal-historical starring a werewolf knight, THE BEAUTY’S BEAST, which finaled for “Best First Book” in RWI’s More Than Magic contest, and a YA fantasy with Greek gods run amok, HEIR TO THE UNDERWORLD.

Currently she is working on her first contemporary romance, a fun RomCom romp a la Jennifer Crusie or Victoria Dahl.

For more information on E.D. Walker, please visit her website, “Like” E.D. at her Facebook Fan Page or friend her on Goodreads.

Or you can always just email her at: e.d.walker.author(at)gmail.com

The Beauty’s Beast

Lady Kathryn's father has sent her to court to find a husband, but being penniless and disinterested doesn't bode well for her success. Bored by the petty intrigues of court, she finds her loneliness is eased when the king charges her with the care of his newest acquisition: an uncanny black wolf. What the king doesn't realize is his remarkable pet was once Gabriel, his favorite knight, cursed into wolf form by an unfaithful wife.

The beast's too-knowing eyes and the way he seems to understand her every utterance convinces Kathryn the wolf is more than what he seems. Resolving to restore him, she doesn't count on the greatest obstacle being Gabriel himself. The longer he stays in wolf form as a captive of the court, the harder it becomes for him to remember his humanity. And to fight his wolfish urges to maim and kill.

Only Kathryn's affection and determination stand between Gabriel the wolf and Gabriel the man. But when the one who betrayed Gabriel returns to court, will Kathryn's love be enough to keep Gabriel from exacting a brutish revenge that will condemn the wolf to death?

No comments: