Saturday, February 2, 2013

Lesson Eight: Revise, revise, revise

I have again been less than prompt in blogging for the very reason I am writing this entry. (Well, there is that two-other-jobs thing.) I am involved in the third revision of my novel. Each revision has discovered flaws that earlier had been acceptable work.

Of course, as a copy editor I see the value in revising copy. It makes the content stronger. Most of the work I do involves the nip-and-tuck of extraneous sections. I allow violations of the "show, don't tell" mandate for authors. I don't amp up my main character's emotions in the right places. I don't make him keep to a straight path when he encounters certain situations. I tighten up the conflict between MC and chief protagonist.

Snip, snip, all gone. Spackle and sand, and scenes are suddenly stronger.

The key element in all this is the opening chapter. Almost every agent wants to see at least the first chapter of your novel. That makes sense because a reader standing in an airport bookstore will make the decision to purchase or not based on the blurb on the back of the book and a reading of the first few paragraphs. Hence, that first part is LIFE OR DEATH material. I am content with what I have now, but will an agent share my enthusiasm? Ay, there's the rub. My view doesn't matter. An agent's does, as will an editor's, as will the readers' decision while they stand in that airport bookstore.

I have no qualms about my characters, conflict, pace and plotting. Setting is another matter, but I touched on that in my last blog post. There is compelling material, but all that good copy means nothing if that opening doesn't grab EVERYONE involved in determining success in a literary venture.

So, I revise, which is what I am going to do right now. Nip and tuck. Snip, snip, Spackle and sand.

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