Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Readying Requested Revisions (or Write, Write, As Fast As You Can)

Tip of the Day: Save copies of your work to your hard drive, a removable disk, AND email them to yourself. You can't be too careful where your blood, sweat, and tears are concerned!

It's amazing to me how after completing five novels equaling tons of drafts, I still don't know when my books are truly as good as they can get on my own. Let's take Novel #3 for example, the one I'm currently revising based on an editor's feedback. The Draft #s below span the time between January 2005 and June 2008.

Draft #1: I got 50 pages in before deciding that 1st person present tense wasn't working.

Draft #2: Changed to 3rd person present tense. Yes, you heard me right, 3rd person PRESENT. Finished book in a record 3 months! Got feedback from an agent's assistant saying it read like a synopsis.

Draft #3: Rewrote entire book to 3rd person PAST tense. Oh yeah, that worked much better. It was surely perfect then, since it was fast-paced, funny, and hooky! Sent it to my CPs.

Draft #4: Ooops, not perfect. Revised based on CP feedback. Sent it to a published author for an ms critique exchange sure it would WOW her.

Draft #5: Got back author feedback. Oh yeah, the MC isn't always likable, is she? Hmmm, gonna have to fix that.

Draft #6: Revised whole book from top to bottom, adding many pages and scenes, making the MC much more likable and her motivations much clearer. Sent some queries/pages to agents.

Draft #7: Oh, the MC is STILL not likable enough? Really? OK.... Revised AGAIN and beefed up even more areas that were lacking, including trying to tighten the voices of some of the many characters to make them more distinct. Think to myself I should probably cut/combine some of the characters, and I should probably tone down the MC's sarcasm/snobbery. But meh, nah, after 7 drafts I'm SURE I've got it down fine! Sent full to editor who requested it based on a query.

Draft #8: One year later, I hear back from the editor on the full. She likes it! Except she thinks: (1) I should probably cut/combine some characters, and (2) I should tone down the MC's sarcasm/snobbery. HA! She read my mind, right?

Draft #9: I do what the editor says and give it to my CPs again.

Draft #10: I am currently making the changes my CPs are suggesting.... ***


Knowing that an editor is waiting for it, I could see myself totally doing like 3 more drafts before sending it into my agent based on my Jumping the Gun history, but then she'd probably forget she even requested it!

***Oh dear lord, this is sad. Until I just wrote this out, I was calling my current revision Draft #6.2. I was a bit off.

How do you all know when your novel is READY and as good as it can get? And do you get extra worried that it will actually NEVER get done, and revise incessantly when you have a requested, uncontracted revision? Or is it just me? (Please tell me it's not, even if to only humor your poor blogger.)

Deena, Miss Recently Repped


Ghost Girl said...

Ha! I'm beginning to think the answer to the first question is, "Never..." YA #1, which just got encouraging feedback from an editor, was revised twice before the first round of subs. Then it sat for 2 years, alone and sulking. When YA #2 was done and out with dream editor, #1 popped out of the drawer for a quick revision and sub to a November call. 1st chapter got a rise and a request for the full (not yet revised again!!) Quick revision work, then 7 mo. later got the note that it has potential, revise some more...

That's where I am right now. With #2 at dream editor, I still look at it and see new things I want to tinker with. Kind of like constantly adjusting my kids' clothes or messing with their hair...

Hold on tight, comes the ride! Wheeeee!

DeenaML said...

Ha, Mary Ann, I shoud've known you would sympathize as you go through your own requested revisions! Crossing fingers..... :)

Kristina Springer said...

Hee hee-- this is funny Deena. ok, it's not funny-- it's just so true! Your details of your drafts reads just like the book I'm currently revising for the zillionth time (I don't keep track of the # of drafts as well as you so I just go based on feelings).

Lisa Schroeder said...

Man Deena, I'm SO impressed. I don't know that I could have stuck with a manuscript that long. I mean, some of those revisions were BIG revisions, and to keep going... wow! Good for you!!