Sunday, July 28, 2013

Drafting versus Revising

Hai! Yes, it's me again, just posted yesterday but the Universe is a funny thing sometimes and here I am today to lead off the Word Whores lineup, discussing drafting versus revising.

I'm not sure what stand my fellow Word Whores are going to take on this aspect of the writing process. In my writerly garret, I do a first draft of a novel, which is the initial time I commit my entire story to the metaphorical paper. (Actually, I rely on the laptop and the keyboard and the electrons of WORD nowadays). What I do is get something written, and each time I sit down to write thereafter, I start by rereading the portion of the story I wrote last time. This process warms me up for the new stuff and I might expand on what I wrote previously, add embellishments, clean up action etc. Technically I guess that's "revising" but I wouldn't give it the twitter hashtag #amrevising at that point. It's not Revising with the capital "R".

When I finish the first draft, I have all the bones of the story in place and then I regard myself as revising, in the work I do on that book thereafter. I'm not sure what it would take for me to feel I'd done a second draft of a novel. Wholesale replacement of characters and plot elements maybe? I can't honestly remember a time I ever did that.  Even if I add or delete new scenes, it's still revising at that point.

I can't tell you how many more passes I make through a manuscript. As you've discovered if you read these Word Whores posts very often, I'm quite the organic, superstitious, what's-the-opposite-of-organized author. So all parts of my process vary, depending on feedback from my beta readers and critique partner, and then on inputs from my editor. Drafting is between me, myself and I but more players enter the mix when we hit the Revising stage.

I once received a pretty hefty Revise and Resubmit (R&R) from a publisher and that one took me a while to absorb and think through. I liked the suggestions, but not in their entirety, so I had to figure out a way to accomplish what the editor was recommending, as far as amping up the conflict and tension between the hero and heroine and not allowing them to fall in love too soon or too easily. I ended up with a couple of very cool new scenes and some insights I could apply to future projects. Always a good thing!

Carina Press Executive Editor Angela James wrote a terrific blog post about the R&R process. As Ms. James said in that post:

"Trust me, if the editor wanted to reject your book, it would be a lot less time consuming. The R&R letter can often take hours for the editor to craft, after they’ve made extensive notes while reading your book. We don’t just whip out an R&R letter in 15 minutes and send it out. It gets crafted by the editor and then read by me and we discuss. We want to make sure that the letter is clear, lays out the issues, but also tells you why we love the book and want to see it again."

I know some authors who have chosen not to pursue an R&R's from various publishers. I've known other people who have done R&R's and either the book as revised got bought, or it didn't.

The author has to decide if the suggestions work for them and their vision of the novel. And now, if you'll forgive me, I #amrevising, on a deadline!

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