Sunday, April 17, 2011

Revising an Old Manuscript

I recently decided to revise my very first (well, if you don’t count the book I wrote in high school) romance novel. I had been content to let this story lay in the preverbal desk drawer, never to see the light of day. However, several friends, who had read the story, began asking me about it when I spewed bucketsful of happiness over my agent sending my second book to Harlequin for consideration.

The fact that I wrote this story three years ago and people remembered it really got me to thinking—should this story really stay locked away, or is something there worth sharing?

So, over the past three months, I’ve embarked on a wonderful and sometimes frustrating journey as I took a second look at the story.

I learned so much about how far I’ve come as a writer. But it’s more than that. I put into use all the writing craft skills I’ve painstakingly learned over the past three years. I’ve rewritten stories before… Actually, I haven’t written a story that hasn’t gone through at least one major rewrite, but this was different because the revision didn’t happen immediately.

Here, I was able to see how much of a problem I had with passive voice. How god-awful my grammar and punctuation was. How stilted my dialogue was. I was able to see that the reason I never connected with my heroine back when I was writing the story was because she didn’t have any clear goals. I realized my conflicts needed to be stronger. And without a real goal, the heroine’s motivation seemed wishy-washy.
To fix these problems I had to not only change her characterization but also a portion of the plot. In the end, I deleted more of the book than I kept, and what I did keep has been mostly reworked.

Now, I’ll soon begin the submission process for this book. But despite whether I sell this novel or not, I’ve learned even more about myself as a writer. I learned how to recognize tight writing, what’s important and what’s really not crucial to the story—no matter how well-written or fantastic it may seem. I’ve become my editor and my own critique partner—and sometimes I wasn’t very nice to myself. But more than that, I revisited a story that I loved when I wrote it and breathed a better life into it.

I’m very excited about A HUNTER’S ANGEL and hope an editor out there loves it as much as I do.

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