Slash and Burn

on August 17, 2006

I was going to blog about who would play the villains should any of my books be made into a movie, but unfortunately, I don’t have time to put it together. I’m on a roll with revisions for SPEAK NO EVIL and I don’t have time to put the post together that I want to do, with all the cool pictures and stuff 🙂

So my blog is about what’s on my mind today . . . mush. Seriously, revisions. And mush, because I’m so deep into this story I feel kind of like oatmeal.

I did a first set of revisions which was a moderate overhaul and mostly in the first act of the book (about 120 pages) which was dramatically rewritten. And because I changed some things at the beginning, I had to thread those changes through to the end. My editor was right–the story started with a bang in chapter one, then slowed down to a snails pace until page 120. So I fixed that but created a couple other problems I didn’t realize at the time.

I also knew my climax scene needed more work. It’s good, it has all the elements, but it’s too short. I’m almost to this point again in the revisions (the final act) and I’m slashing and burning. And writing. My editor gave me a little snippet of an idea, and I sort of ran with it . . . SPEAK NO EVIL is really about the making of a serial killer. And as I got deeper and deeper into his psyche (if I need therapy later, blame it on her), I realized I needed more from his POV and less from some other secondary characters.

SPEAK is the first book I’ve written that only has three POV characters. Wait, four . . . but one is a victim so I don’t know if she counts. While I immensely enjoy writing in multiple views–THE PREY has thirteen, I believe, and THE HUNT has seven or eight–this story wasn’t working that way. I have my hero (Nick Thomas); my heroine (Carina Kincaid); and my villain. A first for me. I’m used to dropping in alot of people and having everything merge at the end.

Oh, wait. I lied. I do have a couple other POV characters. But they come in closer to the end when everything’s coming to a head. 90% of the book is still in three POVs.

And then there’s SEE NO EVIL which has two major secondary characters and multiple villains which is both immense fun and a challenge. Completely different from what I’m writing now.

Anyway, I don’t hate revisions. I actually like them–I love having the story out on the paper, all the way to THE END, then going through and layering depth and fixing plot problems. I feel like I’ve accomplished something. I think this goes back to my initial writing problem–just finishing the dang book.

But I’m looking forward to the day when I’m a good enough writer that I don’t need to extensively revise. Just think of how many more books I can write if I don’t have to literally write every book twice! If that’s the case, I might actually be able to write six books a year, LOL. (I’d be happy with four and a vacation.)

I’m wondering if writing a clean first book (because I always think the book I’m sending in is good until I see the revision letter and hit myself over the head why didn’t I see that! It’s so obvious!) is more a factor of the writer or her experience. Truth be told, I haven’t been seriously writing all that long. I started in 2002. I wrote a gazillion UNFINISHED stories before then, but nothing seriously. Nothing that counts.

There are some authors who turn in a manuscript that needs very little editorial guidance. I can’t help but be a little bit envious. If I disagreed with my editor, that would be a completely different story–I’m willing to fight for story points that I believe in, and I have on occasion. (Though to be honest, it’s never a fight. It’s more like, “You know, I really sort of like the way I have this, I think it adds to characterization/whatever.” And she says, “Alright.”) But truth is I agree with 90% of my editor’s comments and concerns.

Makes me wonder how I ever sold in the first place.

Okay, enough beating myself up. I know I’m a good writer on my own, but a good editor makes a good writer great, so I consider myself lucky to have someone willing to show me the path and let me find my place on it.

Still, I’m looking forward to the day when she says, “Allison, don’t touch a word. It’s perfect.”

Well, I can dream, can’t I?