Yesterday I finished the sixth draft of THE PERFECT PLACE TO DIE. There was much rejoicing. It wasn’t a huge revision in the grand scheme of things, but it came at a very difficult time. Between the kids’ school starting back up, the university getting in gear again, the puppy, and general anxiety, it’s a tough time to force yourself to get creative. But I did, and I’m happy with how it turned out. (Now here’s hoping my editor is also happy . . .)
Of course, I also realize that when I say “wasn’t a huge revision,” it might mean different things to me than it means to you. For me, a revision is something much more than checking for spelling errors and internal consistencies in the book. (Such as, “Does a character’s description remain constant?”) No, an actual revision is going through making real changes to the text itself.
For this revision, there were a number of things I set out to tackle. First, my editor had read through the whole manuscript and had some great suggestions about what needed to happen. The first third of the book dragged too much, so it needed to be slimmed down. (I cut it by almost a fifth.) The climax was over too abruptly. (I extended it by about 40%.) Some of the characters didn’t appear often enough. Some areas needed more tension. In all, I probably trimmed about 7,500 words (out of 75,000) and added back in around the same amount I cut. (The final length did drop by a few hundred words.)
Once I’d read her suggestions, I read through the book myself again, looking for ideas on how to execute her suggested edits, as well as checking for things that still didn’t sit right with me. It’s always super helpful to be reading with a purpose. I get to the point on a book that I can’t take it any farther on my own. I’ve made it as good as I can without feedback. Once I have feedback, I can almost always see what I was missing before.
(It reminds me in many ways of the days when I was still searching for an agent. I’d send off a manuscript, confident it was perfect. I’d get back feedback and suddenly see all its flaws. This isn’t to say that a book always has those flaws. Sometimes I’m trying to do something that appeals to some people and not to others. You can’t just give up on your vision because someone doesn’t think it’s great. Sometimes you need to stick to your guns. A lot of the trick is knowing when to do that.)
Anyway. Glad to have the revision done and be that much closer to sharing it with you all!
And in other good news, Ferris didn’t just keep his cage poop free last night, he went to bed at 10 and didn’t get up until we got him at 6am. That’s a huge win in my book. If we can keep that up, things are looking rosy!
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