Monday, August 17, 2009

The Art of Revision

Vicki today. Flushed with the success of Burden of Memory, my second book published by Poisoned Pen Press, I wrote a standalone set in Northern Ontario. It is quite dark, with memories of a dead child, forced adoption, suggestions of child abduction and abuse. It is called Child of Mine. The first and only time I had the title of a book before anything else. I sat down and wrote: Child of Mine. Chapter One.

The best thing I’ve ever done.

No one liked it. It languished, unloved, unwanted, in the remote corners of my computer for a couple of years.

My agent and I have been discussing it, and we’ve decided to give the book another go. The child abuse will be toned down, the character motivation will be stronger, and some other changes. In tone, it will probably be even darker as I’ve found that in some places I’m being unsuitably glib.

It’s an interesting process, revising what was a fully complete novel a couple of years later. I’ve learned a lot since I’ve been published, which probably means I have a lot still to learn. Mostly, I can see where I use too many words and sentences that explain what the previous sentence means.

Some examples:
She discovered that she had an enormous hole in the seat of her bathing suit. How about “She discovered an enormous hole in the seat of her bathing suit

When they realized, at last, that I didn’t have all that much to tell them
When they realized, at last, I didn’t have much to tell them

I pulled at the scrap end of the wallpaper. A piece no longer than the nail on my index finger came away. It would be a real chore to get this stuff replaced.

The last sentence is redundant. Everyone (at least everyone who has ever tried to remove wallpaper) knows that little scraps are bad news.

It’s an interesting process, for sure. I’ll keep you posted as I go along.

1 comment:

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

It's a long process, isn't it? I'm trying to wrap up a first revision before deadline and I'm sooo tired of it by now! But it reads so much better. Best of luck with your project...keep us updated.
Mystery Writing is Murder