Saturday, September 18, 2010

When Revising Becomes an Ugly Tattoo

So I noticed something after turning in my last round of revisions to my agent: Sometimes revisions are like an ugly tattoo. It's the ink you get when you're drunk, or feeling impulsive, or on a dare. A week later, you look at the monstrosity on your arm and go to another tattoo artist and beg her to fix it! But it's HUGE. And even after she covers the portrait of--who the hell is that, anyway?--you realize the overlaying tattoo has made it bigger and even uglier than it was before!

Now, this is not to say that the writing was bad. In my case, the editor who's looking at my MS wanted me to change certain aspects in regards to the story's tone. You'd think that would be easy, but after revising the first chapter three times, I found that it had become irreparable. The realization came from a much deserved chiding from my agent. I'd sort-of lost focus somewhere in the revision process. I hadn't done my writing justice with the revisions. My agent was 100% right. Essentially, the entire chapter had to be scrapped and re-written.

I thought about why the revisions hadn't worked. I started out with my original chapter: the foundation of the book, the first glimpse of my characters and their personalities. Then, after the editor's feedback, I took that first chapter and rather than removing the elements she didn't like, I added another layer. When she asked for just a little bit more, I poured it on thick, adding yet another ugly layer to the previous two. I didn't remove what wasn't working, I just kept adding, and adding, and adding. What I ended up with was a friggin' mess.

In most cases, revisions are quick and easy fixes. A tweak here, a scene there... But if you have to change an entire element, I've learned it's best to to just start over. When I re-wrote the chapter this last time, I had a long talk with my characters prior to starting. I reminded myself of who they were, what they wanted, and how they ABSOLUTELY would NOT act. Then I hit the keyboard. The end result was a chapter that kept the integrity of my characters personalities intact. It laid down the foundation that I had originally laid while at the same time incorporating the story elements that my agent and the interested editor wanted. And when I turned the chapter in to my agent she said, "You nailed it!" I had essentially performed laser ink removal on that ugly tattoo that was my first chapter. Sometimes all you need is a blank canvas!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Blog Chain - What's Your Poison?

Margie started this round of the blog chain and she asks:

How did you come to write your YA genre (e.g. contemp, fantasy, etc.)? AND (yep, it’s a 2 parter), if you weren’t writing that, what genre would you be interested in exploring?

I've always loved stories with a fantastical twist. Even my favorite historical fiction is interwoven with rituals and ancient religions. I'm a fan of anything that involves sword-play, fighting, magic... My movie collection ranges from Lord of the Rings to Underworld, so urban fantasy was a no-brainer for me. But it wasn't until I graduated from writing paranormal into urban fantasy that I truly became a hard-core fan of the genre. The paranormal I'd been writing always had human MC's with extraordinary abilities. Sort of my twist on the super-hero. After I came up with the idea for my urban fantasy, I decided I'd better start reading up on the genre so I'd know how to write it. And since I started reading urban fantasy, I haven't stopped. Be it straight UF or with a romantic twist--I'll read it!

If I weren't writing UF and Paranormal, I think I'd write historical fiction. I would try to write an epic tale in the style of Bernard Cornwell, though I doubt I could live up to that standard! It's funny, but for me the research involved in writing historical fiction is more daunting than world-building for an entire race of mythical creatures!

Check out Kate's blog before mine and Sandra's tomorrow to find out what genre works best for them! Or you can start with Margie and work your way through the entire chain.