Thursday, April 3, 2008

To Revise or Not to Revise?

Tip of the Day: Buy colored pencils for edits to tell your marks apart from your editor.

That is the question I faced last week. And in this particular case, I’m not talking about the early stages of the book when you are still getting feedback and revising all of the time. But after you think the book is PERFECT and you are seeking publication and someone says they might possibly publish it if first you do this list of things. First you think:

AHHHHH!!! I can’t possibly change my precious book! (Or is that just me?)

But then you have to let it sit for a few days and REALLY think about the revision request. Will it add or take away from your vision? Does it really need these changes?

I let my revision request sink in for a few days and I came to the conclusion that YES, I will give it a try. I’m still plenty nervous about what big changes I’ll be doing to my book but, at the same time, I started to get excited about it. Just a little. I was driving down the street last weekend and a great new chapter just hit me. So much that I was writing on the backs of envelopes in the car and eventually pulled over so I wouldn’t run into anything/anyone.

Then, I went to a cafĂ© Monday night and started plotting and planning and REALLY got excited about it. These changes could turn out to be really, really cool! So my plan? To continue taking lots of notes this week—come up with lots of chaps/scenes I need to write (or delete) and start writing next week. I also decided that searching online for revision help could also be beneficial. I found some Web sites that hopefully you’ll find helpful too, no matter what stage of revisions you are at.

First stop: a blog entry on Cynsations. Who doesn’t love Cynsations? She’s always got such great entries. Here’s a particularly great one called Novel Critique and Revision Questions. In this one, Cynthia outlines good questions you should ask yourself as you’re revising.

Second stop: Cynthea Liu’s Revision 911. Here she breaks it down into sections, specifically revising characters, plot, setting and description, and so on. This site especially helped me because I was committing one of her listed no-nos—making a character too dumb. That happens when something is staring the character right in the face but you have them ignoring it. Yikes!

Last stop: Revision Lessons: Judy Blume. This is what I call a feel good piece. Why? Because someone as rockin’ as Judy Blume, who has sold over 75 MILLION books, still has to revise. And she even includes a marked-up page of one of her manuscripts.

Ok, back to work for me. But before I go I’m dying to know, have any of you ever had the to revise or not to revise struggle? And what did YOU decide to do?

Kristina, Miss Soon-to-Pub


Ghost Girl (aka, Mary Ann) said...

Thanks for the fabulous links, tina! Yes, I have had to do some serious revision for an editor, and she was absolutely right. I took some time to let it all sink in and then I attacked it. When I was done, I knew I had something far superior to the original product I had submitted. I had to cut out the whole first half! But it was the right thing to do...and they accepted the revision. But I know it could go the other revise, they accept, and when it's in print you're bummed that it's so different. Fortunately, I have not had that happen. I think more often than not, you can trust your editor. But if your instincts are really screaming "NO!" at you, then you might oughta look at a different editor.

Just my 2¢.

Kate Fall said...

I love that page of Judy Blume's manuscript. It makes me feel so much better. Thanks for posting it, Tina.

Ghost Girl (aka, Mary Ann) said...

Okay...I said "look at a different editor"...that may be a bit too strong, although from stories I've heard, it sometimes happens. But, don't be afraid to fight for the integrity of your vision. Good luck with the revisions!

Lisa Schroeder said...

I can't wait to look over those links later. Thanks for posting those, Tina! And I'm so glad you are feeling excited about the revisions!