Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The potentially endless loop of editing and revisions.

I've discovered a strange anomaly in the writing process: It's possible to spend the rest of my life revising and editing a single novel.

I already went about twelve rounds with Dragon Hunter, and I thought it was done. Since then, I wrote the sequel, Devil May Care, and went a dozen rounds with it, as well. I even started on the third novel in the series, and have about 60 pages done on that. And then my submissions for Dragon Hunter started coming back. I've had three agents read the manuscript so far, and I finally had one who rejected it with something more than "This isn't for me," or "I like it, but I just don't love it."

Let me tell you, it's great to get some actual feedback I can work with. I went through the five stages of grief over the fact that my story wasn't perfect the way it was, and then I sat down and actually read it again. Yikes!

Either I've really grown as a writer in the last few months since I started querying it, or I went through a period of serious self-delusion when I started sending it out. The agent's comments were spot on. There were a few whackadoodle plot missteps, a serious lack of explanations for some of the things that I thought were obvious (since I made up the world, and can see everything in my head, and know all the characters' history, flaws, etc., sometimes I forget that I neglected to explain this stuff to the reader!), and some rather stuffy dialog in places.

Even though I already edited for all this kind of stuff, having an INDEPENDENT AND UNBIASED third party read it and give feedback was priceless, especially since she's in the publishing industry and has a clue as to the kind of advice an author really needs. My friends and family I've recruited just aren't critical enough with me. My husband's great at pointing out spelling and grammar errors, but he's not a trained editor. The best he's been able to do is tell me whether he likes it or not (he likes it, but he sort of has to, right?).

My mom is an English teacher, but even she lacks objectivity when "grading" my work. She picks up on misplaced commas, but she has a hard time saying anything negative about plot, pacing, character development, world building, etc. She is my mother, after all. What did I expect?

Another friend is reading it right now, but I think she's reading it for enjoyment rather than as an editorial review.

What I really need is an army of beta readers who all have a stinking clue what the publishing industry demands from a novel. Does my dialog need to be tightened up? Does the pacing lag in a certain place, or is it too fast to keep up with somewhere else? Do I need to describe some aspect of the world better so you don't feel lost? Or maybe a joke one of the characters tells is so bad it makes you want to throw the book in a lake and pretend you never saw it in the first place? That's the kind of advice I really need. Are there any people out in the universe who are good at that kind of thing? Any who would like to read a contemporary/urban fantasy novel and then get to tell me why it sucked, and what you think it needs in order to not suck?

I'd be grateful for a few new victims volunteers.

Otherwise, I might be stuck in the circular land of revisions for the rest of my life. It's like Groundhog Day. Round and round, the same story, slightly different each time, and never a chance at a new day, or a different story.

Also, I tried to sleep last night, like I usually do, but my cat was apparently hosting a parade in the living room (which is directly over my bed). It sounded like he had cat rugby scrimmage with a jingly ball. This went on for nearly an hour before he felt tired enough to come to bed. At that point, he happily curled up ON MY LEGS. This was not good, either. Cats are very warm. Not to mention, if you move and upset them, they have a multitude of pointy weapons at their disposal, and they're more than willing to use them.

Point of fact: The other night after dinner, Tim lingered at the table while I cleared away the dishes. He was finishing his food, when the cat decided something must be wrong. Tim's coat was hanging on the back of his chair, and the cat slipped under the coat and prepared his attack. I was in the kitchen, and heard Tim scream, and saw the cat bolt down the stairs like a chipmunk on crack. I ran out to the table to see what was wrong. I asked what the problem was, and Tim looked murderous. "The cat just clawed me in the ass," he snarled.

I tried to look sympathetic. I swear I did. So did Lulu. I bit my lip. We even left the room. After thirty seconds of snorting and chortling,  he grumbled. "You can laugh." So we did. For like ten minutes. I wish stuff like that happened more often.

In happier news, It is GORGEOUS here today. *waves hello at spring robins outside* It's 61 right now, sunny, with wispy white clouds smeared across the blue, blue sky. I think I'll take the laptop outside to work. I've given myself one final read-through before I query again, and then dive in to revise the second novel to match up with the changes I made to the first. And then I can jump on the Devil May Care carousel and ride in circles for a few weeks with that story. Dragon Hunter takes place in early spring (technically, it's the first week of April, but it FEELS like the first week of April outside today). I think it's the perfect day to move back out to the deck.

Toodles and La-Di-Da!


  1. Consider me a beta, if you do seriously want one. I promise to read with a caring, yet critical eye and offer you the same kind of feedback that I look for when I give my work for reading.

    I know it can be hard to get solid, useful feedback.

    Email me and we can get it worked out!

  2. Thanks! Seriously! I will let you know when I'm done reading through.


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