By J. F. Lewis
I’m working on the revision letter for BURNED (Void City, Book 4) which will hit the shelves in February 2012, so my mind has turned to things like edits. As a result, we’ll skip ahead a bit. Let’s say that THE TIME TRAVELING VAMPIRE has been written and sold pseudonymously under the name I. M. Spartacus to Reilly Kool Editor at Big New York Publisher. Maybe foreign rights have already sold.
This applies a certain amount of pressure. Things have progressed from the land of “tee hee, I can have a scene where Mr. Garret fights a steam punk laundromat in chapter seventeen” to a revision request like: I love this chapter, but it does not work for the book. Maybe rewrite it with sentient mango people?
Welcome to the job portion of the process. You thought the butt-in-seat time was hard? Ha!
If you are like me, you hate revisions. In my Void City books, the edits I get usually aren’t things to which I object. They are quite reasonable, insightful, and they make the end product a much more enjoyable read. But that doesn’t mean revision requests are seen that way initially.
(As an aside, even that’s not why I hate revisions. I hate doing revisions because usually, when I’m done with a book, I don’t like it anymore. I’m sick of the characters and I want a break from them. It’s like the second week of a two week vacation with your best friend. At some point, no matter how much you love spending time with them, you still want their heads on a spike,)
But back to Mr. Garret and the mango people. (It should be noted that there is no analogous revision request in my rev letter for Burned). The inner writer almost always instantly rejects revisions on the first run through. Your inner writer may be more civilized than that, but mine is a whiny fussy baby.
MANGO PEOPLE, it may scream. WHAT KIND OF MORON THINKS, MR. GARRET SHOULD FIGHT MANGO PEOPLE?!?
(Never mind that Mr. Garret encounters Mango People four other times in the book and it’s clear that he fought them at some point in the past, so actually showing that fight might foreshadow the later events and make those chapters work better. Further ignore the fact that the laundromat sequence never comes up again and is really a vignette that belongs on the writer’s website as an extra. The inner writer doesn’t care about any of that at first.)
When you hit this point, my suggestion is a simple one: sleep on it. You may be surprised at how reasonable some of the requests seem in the morning or how you develope other fixes that are even better than the suggested ones. I never bounce anything back to my editor regarding revisions until three days have passed (unless time is of the essence). Give your inner writer time to calm down and stop being offended. Then you can sort the requests that are quite good from the few you really do have heartburn over.