Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Resisting Change

So last week I sent a submission to an agent. Along with the attachment, I gave her some basic info – short blurb, editor interest (yes, it has some), and I threw in a little bit about another YA of mine that is currently with an editor I had queried and sent to on my own. I concluded with, “I am open to any and all revisions.”

I am.

But that wasn’t always the case. For me, revising is a struggle. Once my words are on paper, changing them is like rearranging Stonehenge (forget it Feng Shui folks). Since they seemed so perfect the first time, my brain would freeze and I just couldn’t think of anything to replace them. And putting the manuscript in a drawer didn’t help either. I’d pull it out a year later and think, “Wow, I wrote this? It’s good!”

But I learned a neat trick. Stop thinking of myself and look at it through my agent’s or editor’s eyes. What are they seeing that I’m not? And what about the reader? What do I want them to take away from this? My books should be a shared experience, not I love this, so should you.

I’ve learned over the years that it’s not just your writing, voice and plot that sells. It’s your revisions. If you’re not willing play well with others, you can kiss those contracts goodbye.

And those beautiful pieces of prose that I just can’t part with? They’re in a folder called “Outtakes.”   


  1. If I don't agree with a suggested change--and believe me, I'll go along with 95%--I'll spend some serious time thinking about why the editor has the problem. Then I try to clarify things either in that section or maybe even in an earlier section.

  2. The sacred words we should all live by: "I am open to any and all revisions.”

    As an editor, I sometimes feel like I'm fighting a wild animal trying to protect its young.

    As writer, I learned from my own experiences. If my editor wants a change and it improves the story, then all the better.

    Thankfully, my out-takes are becoming smaller than in the in-takes, which is a good thing. :)

  3. Kristen, if I don't agree with a small change, I ignore it and hope the editor doesn't notice. :)

  4. Gwen, it's sort of like being Big Billy Goat trying to get his brothers across the bridge. With the writing being the troll of course, not the editor!

  5. Revision is my least favorite part of writing, however, I now see it as the most important part.

    If a suggested change turns on a light bulb in my head, then I'm grateful for the help to improve my story.

    I learned a long time ago that I'm not perfect and neither is my writing. I have a file of "out takes" too, maybe one day they'll see the light of day again. Or not.

  6. As mentioned earlier, I too find that when I don't agree with a revision I try to think why somebody would have a problem with that section. What is it they're really trying to change?

  7. So true, Dotti, although I occasionally forget it.

  8. Food for thought, Dotti. I just duz what the critters tells me. :-)

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  10. Thanks for all the encouragement everyone. I have a good friend and tough critique who's agreed to look at the manuscript before I send it out again. I trust her judgement completely. If she says it sucks then it probably does. :)

  11. Oops...I meant critic, not critique. I think my next blog post will be on proofreading.