Friday, July 8, 2011

How Revising is like Gardening or Making your Novel Show Worthy

I am deeply entrenched in the revising of my first novel, The Puppet Mistress. After I typed “The End,” I looked back on my work with pride. Here was my shiny new novel, ready for its debut.
Now that it’s had a chance to sit, I’m finding that perhaps my novel is not as worth of the Better Homes and Gardens cover as I thought. It’s not bad, but maybe should be moved to the back yard. So here we go with the new landscaping plans. (yes some of these points apply to editing as well, but when you're doing an overhaul, everything smooshes together)
1)   Gardening means pulling the weeds: Revising also means reevaluating those prosy phrases your married to, killing all those extraneous words and pulling out the other fluff and crap you’ve managed to cram into your scenes.

2)   The soil has to be top notch quality: it doesn’t matter what you write, if the foundation of the story is shotty. A great tale needs the support of great characters and a compelling plot if it’s ever going to come to fruition. And keep your readers attention. Is your particular voice engaging? Is the tale a twist on an old favorite? Are your characters believable and have the ability to change?

3)   Adding a splash of color increases curb appeal: Some chapters need to be tightened and shorted or deleted entirely. Other chapters have room for expansion to further develop plot or character. I’ve done both with pleasing results. Here’s the chance to add a detail here you may have missed during the first draft.

4)   Pruning will help the roses bloom: Simplification and clarification are great tools. Tightening the story telling not only balances out the pacing but it also keeps the reader buckled safely in their seats. Nothing’s worse than killing the pacing by having dinner table conversation or an info dump.

5)   Sweat equity applies to the garden too: No one said this was going to be easy. In some ways, it’s almost harder that writing the novel ever way. But considering the amount of time you spent on the first draft, your work deserves the scrutiny and rewrites that will only serve to improve the story. I have the blisters to prove this work is worth it. A tight, well-written, and compelling story is what agents are looking for during judging.

Writing Puppet Mistress was born out of my need to prove I was a legit writer. With that experience under my belt, I’m now proving to myself that I’m a legit self-editor. I’m glad I had a chance to make The Puppet Mistress over. Cause if you thought she was cute before, wait till you see her now.