Friday, March 20, 2009

From Finished Product to Revisions - Wait, shouldn't that be the other way around?

After penning my first novel, I stared at the 137,000 word monstrosity and thought, Cool. Then, after I found out that most agents like first novels to be in the range of 90,000 words, I thought, Crap.

I'd done one revision, and in my opinion, there was absolutely NOTHING that I could cut from the manuscript. Making cuts would detract from the story. The reader will lose so much. This is my baby, I can't possibly make any cuts.

After querying for a few months, and after receiving no after no after no, I revisited the manuscript. Yikes. I rambled on for pages! Time to do a little weeding. I slashed and cut and slashed some more (Insert evil laughter here). A week or so later, I'd cut 13,000 words. Viola! Now it's ready! WRONG!

Shortly after the second revision, I joined a website that would allow me to share my work and allow readers to offer comments or criticism. My first two critiques were literally six+ paragraphs. Disappointed, sure. But I was also really pleased. Why? Well for starters, I didn't melt into a puddle of goo, crying in a corner. Unfortunately, I don't have any credentials, no fancy initials to proudly display next to my name. When most of my peers were heading off to college, I had a two-year old (But I'll save that story for another day). I didn't know anything about mechanics, I only knew that I love to write. I used the suggestions and went back to work, determined to hone my craft.

I'm thankful for critiques and the people brave enough to be honest with me. I've taken every suggestion, no matter how small, to heart. I pick and choose, using what I think will improve my writing and give my heartfelt thanks. Over a month's time and somewhere around 45 critiques later, I've cut the monstrosity down to a more respectable 94,000 words. Was I able to retain my story? You bet. The reader won't lose a thing. I've trimmed the fat, leaving only juicy meat.

Is there still room for improvement in my baby? Of course. At this point, its a living, breathing thing that grows and changes at a pace that resembles the metamorphosis of my 12 year-old from cute little boy to snarky tween.

When will the revision process end? Who knows. I'm hoping that an agent will make that decision for me when I hear the words, "I'd love to represent you." Then, I start over.

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