Monday, January 28, 2008

COVER TO COVER: Out with the old, in with the new

I could title this post Revisions: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, for it's a follow-on to my last revision post.
Which was all good.
This one will be brutally honest.

Remember how I said revisions tighten the story, make it so much better, make the book really sparkle and shine?
Well, all that still stands. But what if the revisions seem so huge you have nowhere to go? What if the story you wrote needs a total revamp and not just the occasional tweak here and there?

With my Modern Heat TOYING WITH THE BILLIONAIRE BOSS I revised all of last week, the revisions were clear. I could see exactly what needed to be done. Here's a brief summary:

The plot device bringing Beth and Aidan into contact wasn't wholly believable. She's standing in for a her cousin as curator at Melbourne Museum. This had to be tweaked. Easy.

Aidan had to struggle more with getting involved with an employee. Done.

Beth needed to tone down her personality. She was coming across as a bit too confident, too flirty. Done.

Plus, as what usually happens, once a few changes are made here and there, I ended up layering in a few more lovely dialogue exchanges, ramping up the sexual tension in one scene in particular.

So that was Beth and Aidan done and dusted.

Now, onto COURTING CUPID, my Harlequin Romance.
These revisions aren't so easy.
My lovely new ed adores the hero Blane. He's delish.
But the heroine Camryn is another matter entirely!

She's cynical. I deliberately wrote her like that. But in trying to create a character so opposite to the hero, I've gone too far. I've made the reader wonder why Blane persists with someone like her. Ouch!

In order to make this story work, it will require some major changes.
Camryn's personality stems from her conflict...which also requires major changes.

So I sat down and posed the 'What if' question.
What if Camryn does A instead of B?
What if Camryn had A happen to her in the past instead of B?

The first scenarios I came up with were close to my original plot...and my ed said they still weren't working. She posed loads of questions of her own which made me realise the plot as I had it wouldn't work.
Or more specifically, the heroine as I had her wouldn't work.

So back to the drawing board.
This time, when I posed the 'what if' questions, I let my imagination really take flight.
And came up with a scenario I wouldn't have contemplated first time around. This plot wouldn't have entered my head but I really didn't want to ditch Blane the way he is so thought around 'what would make this heroine take a chance on a guy like this?'

Now, it's a totally new plot. Blane will remain unchanged. Many of the scenes will stay.
But boy, will they have a major overhaul.
Because now, Camryn has a whole new conflict. She will be softer. More vulnerable. More likeable.
Which will make the story fly. Hopefully :)

I guess the moral of this story is never get too attached to your plot or characters.
If they aren't working, and you want to make your story the best it can be, you may need to do some major slashing.
I'm about to.
Let's hope it works. Stay tuned...


EJ McKenna said...

Egad, the heavy workload never stops.

It sure puts paid to the (false) idea out there that once you get published, it's all 'easy'. Thank you so much for your honesty in your writing. I hope one day to have an editor as thorough as yours. She wants your books to be the best they can be.

Love Ebs

Ray-Anne said...

WOW. That is such an honest and open post. Thank you for sharing. And ditto what Ebs said.

Michelle Douglas said...

Nic, you give me hope.

Good luck with the revisions.

Nicola Marsh said...

Glad you all found the post useful.
I think it helps to be honest. Being published is a dream come true and I adore it to bits...but it is hard work :)

Barbara Martin said...

I found you through Chris Eldin's site re Book Roast, and I'm glad I did. Your explanation about changing the questions necessary to keep a plot strong were just the catalyst I needed to fix my ailing manuscript. There were things in it that needed changed, and now I can see light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you very much, and I will be linking to your blog so readers of site might make the same connection I did.

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