Monday, November 09, 2009

Revising Negative Image (and a trip to Criminal Minds)

Vicki here. I got back from my East Coast book tour to find the revisions from my editor at Poisoned Pen for Negative Image, the fourth Molly Smith book. I didn’t even have a day to relax and enjoy the release of Winter of Secrets.

As usual most of her comments are pretty good; I agree with them. But I really hate squeezing someone else’s ideas into my lovely manuscript. For example, without giving too much away, a couple in the book are in crisis. I have him coming home after work and sleeping in the spare room or sitting in the den with the door closed and the hockey game (he hates hockey) turned up loud. The editor said that for various reasons he really should have moved out. Not a big point, no, but it does make sense, considering what is going on with these people, that he not be in the house. But now I have to have a scene where he decides to go to a motel, a description of a lonely man eating his take-out Chinese meal in a crummy motel room, his wife arriving to talk things over. And find places to fit this new stuff in, into what I thought was a smoothly moving story.

Do I have to do all this? No. If I stuck to my guns and said that I want him in the house because blah, blah, blah, she’d probably let me have my way. But she’s right, and I know she’s right so I really don’t have any guns to stick to.

Similarly there is a medical situation in the story. She found my disease-of-the-week to be too weak (actually too strong for a small town hospital to handle) so suggested I come up with a better medical situation. I wrote to a doctor I know describing what the outcome has to be and asking how I can get there and got some good suggestions. Now I have to go back and change all the references to why he’s in the hospital.

Will it make for a better book? Almost certainly.

But I don’t have to like doing it!

All this week (yes, for a whole 7 days) I am the guest blogger at Criminal Minds. ( Today I am talking about setting a police series in a small remote community, tomorrow about the RCMP in Canada, Wednesday about what readers expect from police procedural novels. Something different every day. So come on over and say hi.


Dana King said...

If you're undecided about the moving out comment, fallback on character. I don't know any more than what you told here, but can he reasonably afford to move out? That may be a reason to stay.

If you decide he should move out, look for a different twist on the "lonely man in a cheap motel eating Chinese food out of cardboard cartons." It's realistic (people do it all the time), but we've seen it before, too. Maybe he finds out it's not as miserable as he thought it would be. Or it's bad, but not in the way he expected.

It just seems that "troubled family, man moves out, eats crap in dingy motel" is almost a cliche. Did the editor have any more of a suggestion?

(PS: He hates hockey? What's wrong with him?)

job said...