How to Revise your romance novel
The Revision letter
So you have a contract with a publisher, you submitted your manuscript within the deadline [ Gold medal] and your editor sends you an email with – gulp – several pages of suggestions and explanations about why she thinks that the story she loves and was excited about is not a heap of stinky brown stuff and does not work.
It needs to be completely rewritten. From scratch. [ Rips off gold medal]
Receipt of this communication has been known to lead to the following reactions:
- much screaming and weeping and renting of garments as is befitting for the apocalypse and the end of your world as you know it.
- consumption of food substances containing liver threatening and diabetes inducing amounts of fat and sugar.
- internet searches for the local job market because clearly you are pants at this writing lark and anything would be better than this.
- long sessions watching box sets of DVDs. Copious volumes of wine and fatty snacks are essential companions.
These activities may also be accompanied by sobbing telephone calls to other writers, rants on the private author loops about how unfair the world is and a total disregard for personal hygiene. Why should you care when you are such a failure?
Your family and loved ones do not understand. You have had revisions before. You can do it. HAH! They don’t get it.
Relax. This. Is perfectly normal.
In fact it is to be expected. Because you CARE – and you care desperately about your work and making it the very best that it can be.
If you did not care, it wouldn’t bother you. But you have invested your love and care and attention for weeks or months in these words, and a criticism of your work is a personal sock on the jaw. Painful and real. And definitely leaves a bruise.
So overall, pretty much the standard five stage pattern for the emotional roller coaster of grief.
*Denial. I am fine – this cannot be happening to me. There has been a mistake. My ed loves my book.
*Anger. Why me? This is not fair. How can she not love this anymore?
*Bargaining. I can change it a little and make it work.
*Depression. I am doomed. Time to gIve back the advance. Forget about it. Move on.
*Acceptance. I have to find a way to make this happen. This story is too important to me to give up on.
I remember explaining to an editor that for me, revising a book is like sending the infant you adore to an orphanage because you cannot love it any longer and the other kids need you.
Nine weeks or nine months in the making, your book is the precious object which is perfect in every way in your eyes,
Then the editor peers into the pram and says: I was expecting a blonde blue eyed girl. This is a brown eyed boy. Make me another one.
Coloured contact lenses and hair dye? Shake of head from the ed. Hard woman.
So you sniff and hand your baby to a stranger, wave them off into the archived files folder, and never see them again.
Then with tears still in your eyes you have to go to the ideas room and scrabble around on what is left on the shelf in the hope that you have something which will make the story sing and your ed will love it again. Love you again.
And you will make the book sing. Eventually.
Am I the only who thinks like this?