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    Revisions

    No one likes revisions. In theory, it may give us a chance to grow and show our flexibility but in practice, it's a pain in the butt. Someone else’s ideas are going to impinge on our work. Someone else is trying to tell us what we should or shouldn’t do with our story! It sets the hackles up right away.

    Publishing is a team effort. Your editor is there to make the book better. We all know that. But who cares when you're looking at a sheet full of revisions?

    Some editors routinely change wording, sentence structure, or dialogue tags just to make the work more their own. Editors have a reputation too. They want your work to show some of their initiative. To reduce editorial fingers in the pie, try to watch the quality of your work:

    • Spelling is the number one offender. If there are more than a few misspelled words, your editor is going to look even more closely at the rest of your manuscript.

    • Grammar is another basic. If your poor grasp of grammar shows up twice on the first page of your work, expect an editor to be on the lookout for other problems.

    • Grasp of day/time is another big problem for writers. Your hero/heroine can't go to sleep on Wednesday and wake up on Friday, unless they're in a coma. Check the continuity of your work. Make sure you know when and where your characters are.

    There are exceptions to this rule. Revisions are fine. There's nothing wrong with re-thinking your work. But when they change the basic story structure and what you have is a new, different story, it might be time to reconsider. It might be time to write another book that fits within those guidelines, rather than try to push a square peg into a round hole.

    Every writer has to decide what he/she is willing to change in a manuscript. Some will be willing to change more than others. If you aren’t sure, think about these ideas:

    • Are you willing to change a main character?
    • Are you willing to change the main part of your plot?
    • Are you willing to cut characters?
    • Are you willing to make the story sexier/darker/lighter/more violent?

    The best thing is to expect some revision or re-working of your story. If it happens, decide from there if it stays within your storyline. If it does, take a deep breath and look at each one individually. Stay true to yourself and your work. Try to imagine what the editor is thinking and see it from his/her POV.

    After all, editors are just people who want the book to look its best and sell a lot of copies. And maybe for some of them, it's as close as they'll ever come to the process of actual creation. Everyone likes to stand close to a newborn baby, especially when they can take part of the credit for it!

    Next time: Writing Ethics

    Copyright © 2001 Joyce Lavene

    Joyce Lavene, who writes with her husband/partner Jim, is the author of 40 novels including an award winning mystery series and a romance nominated for the Frankfurt EBook Award for 2000. She's also been published in sci-fi, fantasy, and non-fiction. When she isn't writing, Joyce paints in watercolors and is a practicing herbalist. She and her husband are graphic artists who have created many book covers and professional photographers. They are currently working on five separate series of novels, each for a different publishing house! Joyce is active with RWA and The Mystery Writers of America. She lives and works in North Carolina, USA, with her three children and two grandchildren. She and her husband welcome their readers to their homepage: http://www.joyceandjimlavene.com.

    The Authentic Self: Journaling Your Joys, Griefs and Everything in Between by Shery Russ



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