26 September 2007

Emerging from the Dungeon of Revision

Hi folks, I've been MIA for a couple of days while I finish up this (dare I say, the last?) round of revisions on BEAUDRY'S GHOST.

May I just say, the problem with having a VSE (Very Sharp Editor) is that they make you work. Yes, that was a whine!

The benefit? If you're open to constructive criticism, a VSE can push you to grow your skills as a writer. Beaudry won awards in its first life as a Dreams Unlimited eBook. A couple years and another edit/revision later under the LTDBooks banner, it won another award, from the Independent Publishers of America.

And now, with Samhain Publishing, I have yet another chance to go back and revisit this book of my heart, this time with an editor who doesn't know its history and who could look at it with complete objectivity.

Let me tell you, it's not a comfortable process to have what you thought was your best work at the time picked apart and analyzed, exposing every flaw! I learned a lot about how much my writing style has changed; things I used to be oblivious to are now some of my biggest pet peeves. I head-hopped. I let my plot wander down tangents that didn't move the story forward. My characters' motivations were unclear at best, and at worst, changed from chapter to chapter. I didn't think deeply enough about how to set up the sequel. I basically spent most of my time making sure my historical research was on target - and I forgot to give the same attention to the rest of the book.

I was a writer with a measure of raw talent, but without the technical skills to make the story as effective as it could have been.

Now as I cluck and wince over this manuscript, it makes me wonder what readers and awards committees saw in it! LOL I can only conclude that my love and passion for the time period, the characters, and the setting somehow found its way through the obvious mistakes. I poured my heart and soul into this story, and it must have showed.

It also proves to me that no matter how good you think a story you've written is, there is always, always room for improvement. I've learned that for the good of the story, absolutely nothing about your writing can be sacred or set in stone. You must be willing to be ruthless in your quest to improve and hone your craft. If you allow yourself to relinquish control to that degree, you leave the door open for wonderful things to happen.

I feel blessed and grateful that Samhain set Lindsey McGurk the task of guiding me to make this story the absolute best it can be - based on my skills at this time in my life. How many authors get a chance to do that?

I know she thinks I'm saying that so she won't be so mean to me next time. But I have no illusions. She is already limbering up her whip to stand over me until I've turned in the sequel, which I'm sure she will dissect with the same diabolical cheer with which she deconstructed Beaudry.

Lindsey, darling... bring it on.


Lindsey said...

Aw, shucks! I'm very touched by your kind words, but it's an easy job to emphasize the strengths of an amazing manuscript. I can't take any credit for how real the characters are, the deep emotion of the story, or the beauty of the writing - which is certainly what past judges & readers have responded to. I can point out how to strengthen what's already there, but I can't give a book heart!

But it's been a fun and educational experience for me as well. It's a great pleasure to work with an author so dedicated to her craft - who's responsive to suggestions, makes the book better in ways I wouldn't have imagined possible, and who only whines when absolutely necessary. ;)

I can't wait for everyone to read this - it's going to knock their socks off!

tea_please said...

That's a great "acceptance speech!"

: D

Seriously, it shows that you're just the super lady I know you to be in real life!

Surely, as a beginning/ hobby-writer, I know all my stuff sucks and I can't imagine being as advanced as you are now. Wonder if I'd get there? You are a very dedicated worker (ahem, writer).

Love you!