Recently, AJ Hartley talked about the Invasive Revision. This is where he realized that the book had problems and he needed to take a chainsaw to it. This post resonated with me, because I just turned in the ‘revision’ for Blood Winter. That’s in quotes because at least 55-60% of the words were new. Brand new chapters, cutting out wholesale chunks, teasing out the bits that don’t fit any more, shoring up new stuff, characterization and action and so on.
But if more than half the book is new, is it a revision?
I’ll let you decide. Here’s the funny part. My editor didn’t ask for this level of revision. He pointed out some flaws. I realized he was right. He suggest some fixes, some of which I incorporated. But I had known for a long time that there was one thing I’d done in terms of point of view and introducing a character that didn’t work. But I didn’t know how to fix it. So I kept going, hoping a solution would occur. This came back to haunt me. But this time, with distance, with my editorial notes and those of my agent, I was able to come up with a fix. One that required a lot of new words.
The book is better. I also, sadly, lost some scenes that I really really like. Here’s one. Go ahead. Read it. Done? Okay. So what I like about it is obviously the humor, characterization, character interaction, and none of it fits into the book really. And in the end, that’s how you have to decide what stays and what goes. Does it make the book better? If it doesn’t, even if it doesn’t harm it, that’s not good enough. So you have to cut it.
I cut a lot of other scenes I really liked. And some dialog and interactions I loved. It will go into a file and I may or may not look at them again. I may post a few of them up on my blog for entertainment purposes, but in the end I had to be merciless.
People refer to their books sometimes as their babies. I don’t. If I thought of them that way, I couldn’t hack them up and patch them up as needed.
And now, on a personal note: Today is my birthday. If you want to give me a great present, tell your friends about my books. Read them if you haven’t. Spread the word. Have a great day everyone!