Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Ah, the Joy of Revising


I got my revision letter for Vanished in the Night, my next Eileen Carr book. I actually kind of groove on the revision letter. My editor always starts with like a page of how fabulous I am and how wonderful the book is and the general terrificosity of the whole situation.

She then proceeds to write 3 to 6 pages of what needs to be changed. It can be a little daunting and a little scary, but she's right more often than she's wrong, IMHO, and I know it will make the book stronger.

This time, there's been a fairly large time gap between my turning the book in and getting my revision letter so I basically have not touched this puppy since October. I barely remember my characters' names, much less their motivations. One of the first things that needed to be revised that my editor mentioned was that there was too much banter.

How can there be too much banter? I love banter. I will watch really stupid TV shows with bad plots and ridiculous characters as long as there's some banter. But, lo and behold. There is too much banter in this book. Everyone banters with everyone else. My detective hero banters with his partner about lunch plans, for Pete's sake. It's bad banter. Pointless banter. And what's worse, it makes my hero look like some namby-pamby arugula-eater with a touchy stomach. How not hot is that, I ask you?

She also mentioned some repetition in internal monologue sections. Ha! I thought. No way.

Oh, yes way. For some reason completely unknown to me, I have a scene where the heroine leaves one place thinking about something. There are then two scenes from other characters' POVs. Then I return to her as she arrives where she's going STILL THINKING ABOUT THE SAME F*CKING THING!!! Was I on crack? Drunk? Just out of my mind?

This is where the revising thing falls apart for me. When I look back what I've written and can't imagine what I was trying to accomplish as I wrote it. I know it's going to be okay. I can be ruthless during revisions. Still, where was my head?

Do you ever read things you've written and wondered what the you were thinking?

7 comments:

Karen W said...

Um yes. All the Flippin' time. At revision, at line edits, at AA's (author alterations). Every now and then I see something really nice and I'm all "Wow! I wrote that?" and warmth glowing pride stuff makes me smile.

However, MOST of the time I'm like "Eck. That's crap. Who wrote that? I gotta check my original to make sure some random copy editor didn't insert this drivel. Here we are. Oh. I DID write that. Sigh."

I feel your pain.

Eileen said...

Thanks, Karen. I'm glad I'm not alone.

Maureen McGowan said...

All the time. :)

Stephanie Doyle said...

I think I removed over 100 "just"s during my last AA run.

When reading it back later - I'm always like... what the heck was I doing?

Sometimes it's weird though... when you're revising and you add in a line or some dialogue becuase you think it really needs it... then you look down the page and you realize you already said the exact same thing on the next page.

I'm always convinced that I would never write the same book the same way twice. So if i wrote it, then it got deleted, and I rewrote it it would be all different.

But then I do that where months later I come up with the same line in almost the same spot and I think... maybe not.

Crazy stuff writing.

Molly O'Keefe said...

First of all - another round of applause for that cover!!!

I feel like the distance and time between finishing the manuscript and when you actually revise it with editor notes in hand is the best gift. A good editor know what you're trying to do and with that time and distance you actually get a shot at hitting your own bullseye.

Which isn't to say that it's not totally embarrassing. I'll have a conversation between two people and they will call each other by name almost every line. it's stupid.

Eileen said...

Oh, Steph! All the time! So glad that one's not just me either!

Molly, I'll have whole scenes were they DON'T say each other's names and the only thing they move is their eyebrows!

Sinead M said...

I have conversations that make no sense... none at all, and my character will leap to a decision without thinking it through, or at all..

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