Revision Letters: Wide
and Zoom Lenses Required
© By Carol Stephenson
When I received my first revision letter on NORA'S
PRIDE, I attacked it systematically. As I covered each point raised, I
checked it off. At the conclusion of the revisions, I had 'X''ed out every
single item. Victory was mine, I thought.
As it turned out, I stopped way too soon and too short
on the revision letter. In hacking away at those pesky trees in my path to
publishing glory, I forgot about the forest--the overall story. Penalty?
I have a second revision letter.
Solution? Begin anew and rewrite my book.
It's not pleasant prospect to delete huge sections of
my creative 'baby' wrought of blood, sweat and tears; in fact, it's downright
heartbreaking. However, as a few of my writing friends pointed out in an
illuminating brainstorm session, I can chose either to slap more patches on the
manuscript and watch it collapse under the weight of the fixer-uppers...
Or I can do what I should have done with the first
revision letter: pay attention to the big picture of my book.
When you get that heady piece of letterhead stationary
with the editor's comments and page references, it is an easy path to stray down
and address only the specific corrections requested. After all, the editor
expressed interest in the book and took time to tell you what she needs
accomplished so she can buy it. You tell yourself all you have to do is
make those pesky corrections and overnight the manuscript back to her so you can
have the thrill of announcing the sale within a fortnight. Yet, as you
apply more and more tourniquets to the alleged ills, rather than healing, you
may be distorting the story into a grotesque shell of itself.
My suggestion? Employ both a zoom and a
wide-angled lens when confronted with a revision letter. Don't lose sight
of your story thread or your characters' goals, motivations and conflict as you
tackle the revisions. Keep one eye on the letter and one eye on your
creative vision. If the revisions mean a 'do-over,' then it's your
decision whether to rewrite or to move on to another editor or book.
I did choose to 'do over' as my heroine and hero
deserved the best romance I could deliver.
The result? My first book sale.