In Others' WordsIn Others' Words

Thursday, May 26, 2011

In My Words: Me and My Revision Letter (Part 2)

When confronted with a revision letter, a writer's first reaction might be "No, thanks." We've given our work-in-progress (WIP) months--sometimes years--of attention. Isn't it good enough?

Well, yes, your story is good enough. Good enough to warrant your agent's or editor's attention. Good enough for them to invest their expertise to help make your story better.

Here are 4 steps to work through your revision letter:
  1. Mull over the big picture. As I mentioned in Me and My Revision Letter (Part 1), read through your letter once to get the big picture. And then, let the letter sit for a day or two. Let your agent know you're mulling, not sulking. I sent my agent Rachelle Gardner a "got it and I'm so excited" e-mail after I received my revision letter that got lost in cyberspace. Rachelle sent me a "You okay?" e-mail and I assured her that she didn't need to talk me down off a ledge. I'd taken the letter with me on the regularly scheduled date night with my husband. Yes, he's used to living with a writer.
  2. Do one revision at a time. Rachelle advised me to tackle revisions one at a time. I handled the smaller changes first and then dealt with the more challenging rewrites. Rachelle suggested cutting down on the use of nicknames. Using nicknames was fine--but she felt I'd overdone it. Easy fix with Search and Remove. 
  3. Pray about the process. I also prayed as I revised. Truth be told, I'd prayed through the whole process of writing Wish You Were Here. Why stop now? I needed to strengthen was the spiritual thread, so I prayed: If Allison and Daniel and Seth were real people, what would God have to say to them? 
  4. Be open to major changes. Be willing to do something drastic. By the time revisions were done, a third POV showed up in my book. This character was in the story all along--he just hadn't said much. Adding his POV deepened the story and also heightened the tension. I don't know why I hadn't seen the need for this before--but I'm thankful Rachelle suggested it.

What helped you work through your revision letter? Setting a timer? Eating chocolate? How do you think you'll tackle a revision letter?

photo by fugue/

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At 8:16 AM, Blogger Sarah Forgrave said...

Great tips, Beth! Right now I'm tackling a revision letter in my dreams, LOL. But whenever it comes, I'll return to this post for sure. :)

At 10:04 AM, Blogger Beth K. Vogt said...

Here's hoping your dreams come true, Sarah!

At 1:44 PM, Blogger Jeanne T said...

Great post, Beth! I love how you kept your "baby" before the Lord in prayer, even in helping it grow. :) Thanks for sharing how you worked through your revision letter process!

At 2:32 PM, Blogger Beth K. Vogt said...

I'm learning over and over again how important prayer is to the whole book-writing process--beginning, middle & end.

At 4:25 PM, Blogger Stacy S. Jensen said...

My reliance on chocolate may be ending as the one-year-old has figured out how to get into the desk drawers. While no revision letter is in my near future, I have found your second point to be helpful when receiving feedback.

At 4:31 PM, Blogger Keli Gwyn said...

Sounds like you did a super job of tackling your revisions, Beth. It's so satisfying to watch our stories get even better, isn't it?

At 6:53 PM, Blogger Beth K. Vogt said...

I'm finding it's all about attitude. Day in, day out. Attitude makes the difference.


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