Friday, November 7, 2008

"It's alive!" It's ALIVE!!"

"Er... yes... but it could really use a makeover before you let it out of the lab..."

Ah, the joys of revisions.
And like my fellow Girls, I really do mean that.

Remember back when I described my somewhat chaotic first draft process?

Yeah... see... my so-called first draft is anything but. On some pages, at least. On some pages, it is my forty-first draft. On others, my second or third. For the sake of clarity and ease, I call the completed creature that I hand in to my editor and agent for the very first time my "First Draft". But because I am constantly revising as I write, I don't refer to anything as "Revisions" until I get that puppy back in the mail, all zebra-striped with pencil marks and accompanied by that most marvellous of things, the "Editorial Letter".

Ahhh. My Revisions.

I'm just past that point with book 2 right now. The point in the process when I consider my revisions to truly begin and - oh mighty editrix! - all the heavy lifting has essentially been done for me.

When I sent the thing out, the story was complete. The bones and muscles and connective tissues in place, but I recognized that my creation would perhaps appear a bit... Frankenstinian. A monster with potential, if you will. Lumpy in places, a bit shambling, a few jagged seams showing, bad hair...

Laura and Jessica (editor and agent respectively) are like top-notch plastic surgeons in this case: they come in and do an in-depth consultation with me on where best to nip/tuck/clear-cut/hack/set-fire-to/rebuild-entirely...

Because, at this stage, they can see the entire shape of the creature whereas I am still zooming in on component parts. But once I have their notes, I am able to step back, gauge the body as a whole and get to work. Moulding, shaping, refining what's already there. I love this part. Love it. Love. It's the point where the Mad Scientist becomes the Artiste (sheesh... how far d'you think I can stretch this metaphor?).

The funny thing is that I almost always reconize, when I get to an edit, that I was aware when I was writing the thing that I would be making that edit. ("Right. I knew it was a bad idea to use the brain of an insane criminal...") I just needed someone to point it out.

Now granted, this is really only the second time I've gone through this process with the kind of heavyweight input that I get from Wunderteam L/J, but it sure beats the heck out of doing it by myself!

The end result is far more pleasing to the eye.
And less likely to be chased out of town by a pitchfork-and-torch-weilding mob.


Tracy Madison said...

Lesley, I love this comment on your post: "Because, at this stage, they can see the entire shape of the creature whereas I am still zooming in on component parts."

It's SOOOO hard at the end of that first draft (I write like you, so it's not really a FIRST draft), and all the pieces you've written, thought, deleted, added in, are still there mucking it up in your brain. It's impossible to see it clearly.

Thank goodness for agents and editors!

Jillian Cantor said...

Love the metaphor!
And I absolutely agree about the greatness of the editor's/agent's comments!

Maureen Lipinski said...

This is SO relevant for me right now, as I'm waiting on my detailed agent edit letter for book #3!

I seriously can't imagine NOT having an agent to help fine-tune a manuscript!