The Great Revision Game

So I wrote a really fabulous book. A book I adore, a book I thought my darling agent would fall on her knees in gratitude for. I pictured all sorts of glory – way up on the NYT list, a movie contract, praise and adoration all around, because I freaking loved this book.

Uh, no. My wise and supportive agent missed the glory of this masterpiece completely, so did two of her colleagues, and I slipped it back into the desktop (or into Dropbox) and, a la Scarlett, decided to “Think about that tomorrow.”

It’s tomorrow. Now some people (editors) seem to think I don’t work well with others, but they’re dead wrong. I’m always interested in thoughtful criticisms and suggestions because I have the blessed ability to choose what edit/suggestion is good for me and what doesn’t work, given the book in question. For instance, one publisher said I refused to write heroes who weren’t as dark as my usual. Not true — no one ever asked me to. What I can’t do is soften an already written character without rewriting the entire book. My heroes are strong, and people have strong reactions to them. Softening the hero would change the entire story and create a different book. It’s less trouble to start afresh, and my imagination is the gift that keeps on giving.

But I digress. It’s time to take apart 34th Street Timewarp (its terrible WIP title) and wrestle it into shape. And here’s how I plan to do it.

First, I’m going down to visit Crusie and Tom Hiddleston (Betrayal), so I figure when I’m out of the city Crusie and I will sit and talk and drink tea and coke and coffee. Crusie’s brilliant – and wonderfully analytical. She’s saved more than one of my books. and she loves the current, flawed mess that I love so much. I’ve got her, and notes from Beta Readers. That was the first step – send the mss. to beta readers to get their feedback. They found masses of flaws, most of which I agreed with, and they universally loved it.

So to get prepared, I’m going to break it down by scenes (Crusie does this all the time with flow charts and stuff, but it’s the rare book that demanded that from me). One choice is to use Scrivener – it’s got virtual index cards and I do love computer programs. The other is to take some of my stacks of color index cards, real ones, and do it by hand, which tempts me. Anything that breaks me out of usual thinking is helpful in doing revisions – otherwise I just tend to fawn over my good stuff and miss the bad. So different colors for different POV’s, I think, and then I can move things around like word blocks in an old tv game show. Make a list of darlings I won’t kill, but make sure they earn their place. Maybe print up the mss. in a different font so I have something physical to work on. Bring lots of binder clips and paper clips, lots of pencils and a pad of Clairefontaine for notes. Crusie and I will unite to do battle (and maybe do a round or two with her fabulous NITA who has not yet chosen her proper form) and we’ll cuddle the dogs and watch movies and have a glorious time. I’m so damned lucky to have her.

Gird your loins, children, I’m going in, and I will emerge victorious on the other side. We’ll see what happens with this baby, whether I submit it on my own to a few places. It’s possible that this brilliant, wonderful book doesn’t have a place in this current world. These things happen. In which case I’ll self-pub and those who want it and will love it will find it (I’ll drop some breadcrumbs in the wilderness to lead them home).

Aah, work. I’m excited. The only drawback is The Absolutely, Positively Worst Man in England wants me to continue his story too, but I gotta throw everything into 34th first. So many books to write, so many wonderful stories that I want to wrap around me like a worn flannel quilt with a rhinestone trim. That’s me in a nutshell.

Are you with me?

5 thoughts on “The Great Revision Game

  1. You are going to see Tom Hiddleston live on stage?!? Oh my God. (And am I correct in thinking that BETRAYAL is the Pinter play that’s told backward? We saw the movie version decades ago, and all I really remember is that it starred Jeremy Irons, whom I consider to be one of the underappreciated Hotties of our generation. ) Enjoy the play and enjoy your visit with Crusie. (Brief pause while I heave an envious sigh at the thought of such a retreat.) i’m really looking forward to seeing what you do with the book.

  2. Waiting to read your new book.

    BTW, also want to mention how much I enjoy your older books now being available in audio, which has become my favorite way to “read”. Just hoping to see one of my favorites “Now you See” coming in audio.

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