Thursday, June 12, 2008

On Revision

So, you are looking at your completed manuscript. There have been some suggestions for revisions to "tighten up your story." Potentially, it is because an editor or an agent suggested that you shorten it up some. What about if there are some plot issues that seem to be standing in the way of you and "the sale." How do you do it?

I am a firm believer in finding the easiest way. I seriously believe that too often, writers are taking the wrong approach when it comes to revisions. Instead of finding the easiest appraoch, they go for the complete over-haul and needless to say, it is painful. Even worse, is that the over-haul may create bigger issues in the long run.

when you are faced with a solution, find the quickest way to accomplish it. Let me give you a couple of things I have seen done with some successful authors. Please note though, this is not to say that you should do this all of the time and I am not saying this will work to make that sale, but it might give you some sense of direction.

- One author had an editor a bit concerned with the hero and his aversion to wanting to get involved in a relationship. In the first version of the story, the author had the hero involved in some post war issues, there were some injuries he had suffered in the war and... you get the idea. This just didn't work. Now, what most would have done is go back through the entire story and try to reduce the amount of attention on these first concerns. Easier solution??? The author made him a widower. He had been previously married, went to war and found out that his new wife had been pregnant and died in child birth. He didn't want to see that happen again. Easy fix with a couple of inserted paragraphs.

- Another author was struggling with some time issues. She wanted the character to start in one city, move to another city and end up in London. Now, during this period in history, this type of travel would result in too much time and too much back story. The readers would be to chapter 5 before the characters got together. How to fix it? Insert a few carefully placed "flashbacks" throughout the story. Nothing major, but it worked. We had the history, we saw the movement through time and the editor was VERY happy.

- A final writer was told by an editor that the story was fantastic but 20K too long in word count. Most writers would attempt to take this line by line and try to trim the story down. Easier solution? The writer took out a sub-plot and one secondary character. She had originally planned on keeping this person involved in the story for a follow up. Now with simply a quick mention of the character instead of something drawn out, the cut in words was easy. 1 weekend and it was done. The editor loved it and the sale was done.

So, before you take off making extensive changes to your entire story, think about how you can take an easy route. I think you will find it is less stessful and much more successful.

Have fun!



  1. very good ideas! Thanks...

  2. 20K was too long? What was that author writing? A short story?

  3. When we say it was 20K TOO LONG, I mean they had a 90K story that needed to be trimmed down at least 20K.