Tuesday, January 14, 2014

My Writing Process: Rewrites, Revisions, Revamps--And That's Just the Synopsis!

I'm not a complete imbecile. Okay, maybe I am. I went into this writing venture knowing that I wasn't going to be able to just sit down and write a novel and get it published as it was. I knew I was going to need editing and revision. But I'll tell you now, if you're considering going into writing, you have no idea.

I finished the first draft of my manuscript a year ago last fall. I remember writing in one of the first entries of this blog that my editing process was to edit as I went. I would write some pages, edit them the next day, and then write some more pages. So I guess I really did think that I could sit down and write a novel and get it published as is. I really thought it was in its final form when I typed the last word and hit save.

I went online and read about how to query agents. I wrote a query letter and a synopsis that I sent out to a few agents, just to test the waters. Some didn't reply, though some did. One even replied personally, with some comments on how I could make the manuscript more publishable. She said I needed to work with an editor on pacing and dialogue. This was discouraging on one hand because I thought I was already finished and could move on to the next step: publication and celebrity!

But on the other hand, it was encouraging that, out of the first handful of queries I had sent, I had actually gotten some encouragement. She liked my narrator. She liked my sense of humor. So it was worth it, I decided, to consult an editor. That started a rather long process in which I ended up cutting over 10,000 words from what I thought was the finished product. After re-reading it after this was all finished, I realized that my original final draft had been bloated, windy, and just plain ponderous. The new one flowed. It was economical. It was snappy and quick.

So I started querying in earnest. I sent out dozens of queries to anyone and everyone who was accepting new clients in my genre. Crickets. The majority simply didn't respond. Those who did were auto-replies. "Sorry, not for me." Not one request for a manuscript. I thought I was doomed to be an unpublished author my whole life.

Then someone suggested it might be my query letter and synopsis. So back to my editor I went. Based on her initial comments, it really might be my query letter and synopsis. So we've been trading edits and revisions via email for a few weeks now. I think I might be homing in on what I need. Hopefully I'll be back to querying sometime in the next week or two.

Am I discouraged? Absolutely not. If anything, I'm more motivated. I am not going to have gone through all this work just to give up. I will get published. And I find I'm enjoying the whole process. I feel like I'm really learning what it is to be a writer. And I'm definitely not going to stop writing. As I work to get my first book published, I'm more than halfway through the first draft of my second. Only this time I have all this knowledge and experience under my belt, so I might get it right with a little less hullabaloo this time around.

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