09 March 2011

Holy crap, Batman, this book is BETTER! or, Why Revising is Like Altering a Dress

So, about six weeks ago I had a real live phone call with a real, live editor from a real, live NYC big six house. No, he didn't offer to buy my book, but he did give me a laundry list of suggestions for improvement. Some of which had also been said to me in the rejection letter I got from the agent I REALLY WANTED to sign with. It took a few days to let it all sink in, and decide what to do about it - make the changes or not?

Now, before this, I had thought this was the best book I've ever written. It certainly is the longest one I've ever written, and the most complicated. But both said it was just too quiet. The editor asked me "Why is this YA and not Romance?"

This manuscript, or parts of it, have been through the gauntlet. Critique by another editor (at an imprint of this house, oddly enough) through SCBWI, and a dozen peer critiques. A partial critique by a fellow author. We all agree that the first three chapters are pretty much awesome. I didn't change much of that, except to shift the focus just a bit. And added a prologue, which I don't usually do but was suggested and I think in this case works for the piece. But I had taken one little bit of advice -- to add a love triangle (which is still there) and up the 'YA-ness' of it--too far. I had focused on the romance, and it turned into a romance. The other thing I did was cling too much to the original story. This is a fairy-tale retelling, and I had become a slave to the original work. Ack!

Anyway, once I figured out where I was going, off I went. And I pulled out thousands of words, many scenes, lots of sappy, melodramatic narration. What I was left with were bits of story with gaps in between. In a way, it's like  altering a piece of clothing. I had to rip out all the seams, throw away bits that weren't working, and now I'm left to stitch them all back together with new threads and add better pieces, creating a whole new piece of clothing. A ball gown, perhaps? LOL

And so far, so good. I have a new victim beta reader, and she hasn't given me her notes yet, but hints that she loves what she's read. Further along, I LOVE what I've written. THIS is the book I wanted to write in the first place!  How I got so far off track (which is really funny if you know the scene I'm working on now, if not,well, we'll all laugh about it when the book is published) in the first place, I have no idea!

I still have a LONG way to go. More to cut (hopefully - the book's now over 100K, which isn't bad for a dual POV historical fantasy, I guess, but too long for me!) and a few more bits to add.

I'm hoping the editor likes the new version, because I think I'm in love with it. I can't wait to put the finishing touches on it and take it down the runway.

Back to stitching!!
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