Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 29, 2014

Working Out the Details

erikaphoto-45Hello again! Jersey Farm Scribe here on…

PATIENCE: Working out the Details

Speaking from my own personal situation, I just did a major revision on my chapter book. It brought my story a bit more full circle, drawing some of the ending and pulling piece of it into the beginning.

Exciting stuff and I love the way it’s reading now.

But that was a pretty major revision for me, and I’m realizing that in some ways, it’s set me back a good bit. There are parts that don’t flow as well now, character reactions that don’t make sense and redundancies that are just plain annoying.

While I knew it would happen, to be honest, it’s quite frustrating.

Grumble, grumble… I JUST went over all this stuff…

There is a part of me that instinctively desires to push things back the way they were so I can make certain scenes read through properly again.

Plus, I have this crazy voice in the back of my head. It keeps thinking about the SCBWI conference I attended at the end of June, the people I talked to, the editors and agents who showed interest and who I have this amazing opportunity to submit to. And the voice says:

YOU MUST SUBMIT IT NOW!! 

Voice absolutely hates the idea of letting too much time go by. It thinks that the agents and editors will wonder… what took so darn long???

And while you may get different opinions from different people, the logical side of my brain knows that Voice is simply wrong. They knew I had revisions to do, and I’m talking an extra month or two, not years.

Agents and editors, of all people, KNOW how long revisions can take. All the ones I spoke to, not only understood, but respected writers for taking the time to do revisions correctly and present the absolute BEST manuscript possible.

Now, don’t get me wrong, deadlines are important, and being realistic is important. In this case, there is no “deadline”. But still, I don’t want the agents and editors who were open to seeing my work to wait an entire year to see it. Largely because the chances of them still remembering who I am drop pretty dramatically. And if at all possible, I definitely want that little light to go on.

But revisions often lead to more revisions, and I think it’s important to ride that train until it naturally evens out and becomes the story that it’s meant to be.

So whenever making a major revision, keep in mind that you may end up producing more necessary changes than you expect. And don’t be afraid to change things that may cause large re-writes or entire character redevelopment.

After every major revision, I remind myself that I need to take the time to do what I call domino revisions

How did my revision affect the arc and rhythm of the story? Is there too little or too much action at any particular point now? Does a chapter break or mini climax need to be altered?

How did it affect the characters? Experiences shape our interpretation of everything around us. If a character’s experience changed at in my revision, their reactions to things later on may need to change as well.

Did my revision involve the scene, timeline, family dynamics… anything where I need to check for congruence throughout the rest of the manuscript.

The list goes on.

Manuscripts develop like the people created on their pages. Growing up can take much longer than we’d like, and the stage before we become adults can be the most frustrating part.

Who hasn’t met a teenager who makes dramatic changes? It’s not easy. But whether they stick with those changes or not, they are often a big part of what shapes them as an adult.

Our manuscripts need a lot of patience, as they are becoming the living beings they are meant to be. But you know what…. they’re worth it!

Thank you Erika for another great article to help all of us improve our skills.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Responses

  1. What a wonderful piece about revision. I’m revising a novel myself and your description of the process is right on. It’s a struggle and chapters must change when you make changes to your main characters.

    Bebe Willoughby

    • Thanks for your response Bebe. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one!! Good luck with your revisions. 🙂

  2. This was so helpful. Sometimes that inner voice to rush, rush, rush, and do it now can really put the pressure on. Thanks for the reminder to do it right, even if it takes extra time. The time is well worth it!

    • Oh thanks for stopping by and takign the time to respond Telaina, glad you can relate!

  3. You write excellent posts, Erika🙂 So relevant! And yes, I think we’re all familiar with that nudging voice and the fear–whether justified or not–that’s behind it. Still—if your work is not the best it can be, regardless of WHEN you send it, that editor or agent is ultimately not going to be impressed. We all want our stories to impress😀 Otherwise, why bother? lol Good luck with your “domino revisions”! LOVE that term😀

  4. Erika: So many words of wisdom you shared in this post. Patience is sometimes difficult. The many voices in our heads that shout, “Submit! No, revise!” All the best as you continue to work out the details and the “domino revisions.” ~Suzy Leopold


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