Welcome to my stop on The Sound of Letting Go blog tour. I was beyond excited when I was asked to be part of this blog tour. Today I have a guest post from Stasia Ward Kehoe on how an author revises a manuscript. Oh and did I forget to mention the awesome giveaway at the end? Read on to find out what you could win and how to enter!
For sixteen years, Daisy has been good. A good daughter, helping out with her autistic younger brother uncomplainingly. A good friend, even when her best friend makes her feel like a third wheel. When her parents announce they’re sending her brother to an institution—without consulting her—Daisy’s furious, and decides the best way to be a good sister is to start being bad. She quits jazz band and orchestra, slacks in school, and falls for bad-boy Dave.
But one person won’t let Daisy forget who she used to be: Irish exchange student and brilliant musician Cal. Does she want the bad boy or the prodigy? Should she side with her parents or protect her brother? How can she know when to hold on and when—and how—to let go?
So, I’m going to let you in on a secret: When I revised THE SOUND OF LETTING GO for my editor, I totally changed the ending! No spoilers here, let me just say that the boy Daisy winds up with in the published version is NOT the boy who stole her heart in the first draft.
When my editor, Kendra, sent me her amazing-as-always (9 single-spaced pages long) editorial letter last spring, she got me thinking. She didn’t tell me the ending felt wrong or anything like that. Her questions and comments just led me to a place where I could truly see and feel what I’d put on the pages and discover for myself the way to make a (hopefully) better book.
I divulge this tidbit to make an important point about the notion of revision.
REVISION IS NOT LINE EDITING.
Revision is not…FACT-CHECKING or DATE-STAMPING or GRAMMAR-TWEAKING or SCENE-SHIFTING either
REVISION IS GOING TO A GUT-HONEST PLACE AND HAVING THE COURAGE TO CHANGE not just a word or a line but the ENTIRE DIRECTION of the story or A MAJOR ACTION POINT or even to TOTALLY REIMAGINE A CHARACTER.
Years before I published my first novel, AUDITION, I submitted a manuscript to a fantastic editor. She told me that she was interested in my novel if I would consider making some revisions. Of course I agreed. BUT, naively, I just took her letter and did a cursory fix. She said the settings needed more details, I added a few lines about snowy treetops. She said a character felt insubstantial, I just cut him. I turned that puppy around in a week. What I hadn’t done was to look more deeply at her comments to see what she wanted me to discover about my novel AS A WHOLE. What I hadn’t done was to stay true to myself while revising but simply to check off the boxes I thought the editor wanted me to check. Needless to say, that manuscript remains, unpublished, in a drawer.
Not every manuscript requires the same amount of butchering. However, one piece of advice that I think can be consistently given to writers is that it is worth taking time to think hard about what revision means to you, what you are willing or unwilling to do to a manuscript, and how you define your ideal process of revision. When you receive feedback from a critique partner, agent or editor, realize that you have to respond to their comments while REMAINING TRUE to your writing style and the elements of the manuscript that you hold dear. But, you also have to be open to what their challenges to your manuscript mean and to be willing, in your own, very personal way, to address them.
In sum, IF YOU’RE NOT SCARED WHEN YOU’RE REVISING, YOU’RE PROBABLY NOT DIGGING DEEP ENOUGH.
Are you curious about the original ending? Maybe I’ll post it sometime!
Stasia Ward Kehoe’s second novel, THE SOUND OF LETTING GO, was published on February 6, 2013, by Viking. She is currently working on a new book and trying not to get too attached to the first-draft ending. Visit her online at www.stasiawardkehoe.com
ENTER TO WIN…a signed first edition of THE SOUND OF LETTING GO, one of four different TsoLG Swag Packs, or a pair of author-designed custom Keds sneakers (size 8)
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