I finished off the revision on SECRETS for the film agent with my agency yesterday. I still have a lot of polishing and reworking to do, but I got through to the end. I connected point A to point B. It wasn't pretty. At all. I stripped the story down to the bones and then rebuilt it. The most significant alteration she wanted was for more plot. Adding more plot to a story isn't pretty. I never want to do it again. I will if I have to, but it's not fun.
When this all started, my agent, Sarah, sent me two things to help me with this revision. First, she'd compiled all the revision notes from a lot of different people including one of my beta readers and my husband. If more than two people said it and she agreed, it made it into the revision notes. The second thing she sent me was extremely helpful, but not in the way I'd have guessed: she sent me chapter notes on SECRETS and that's when I realized that entire chapters were about character development not plot development. So, my goal was to change that... to add events so that every single chapter had a significant event in it.
The frustrating thing is that when a story changes this much--you're sort of left in shell shock when it's done. People keep asking me if I've improved it, and I can't tell. It's different. It's very different. I'm not sure what to think of it. The previous story was all about the relationship between Piper and Gris. This one is about the story around them. It's focusing with a broader scope than before. I like it. It still makes me cry, but it's very different. Some chapters started from scratch.
I'd told Sarah before beginning that I expected this revision to end with about 80% new/altered material. I think it's about right. I went from 36 chapters to 24 chapters. It decreased from 92K down to 89K. It's just so very different from before. Plot points moved around or were dropped. A substantial amount of plot points were added. I stole a scene from the second book.
It's madness, I tell you! Madness!
Every time you add an event to a story, it ripples out. All the stuff early on meant that chapter 23... was entirely new. I had to toss out the next to last chapters in their entirety. They meant nothing and made no sense. The only thing they had in common with the previous novel's final chapters were the location and the same characters.
Another hard thing about this revision is I've been sending Sarah six chapters at a time as I finished them so she could make sure I was on the right track. Sending chapters from a book that was incomplete... nearly killed me. I never send off chapters to people unless I'm really not sure it works at all... and then I just send it to my sisters usually... very close beta readers... not someone I'm trying to convince that I'm a good writer. I just finished my Kindle read-through to look for major plotholes and typos... and it makes me sick that I sent off "rough draft" chapters to Sarah. *shudders* My rough drafts aren't hideous, but they aren't anything I want to show anyone... ever... at all.
Anyway, I've been a bear to be around this summer while I was working on this. This was a tough revision.
"Easy reading is damn hard writing." ~Hawthorne
*Wendy hugs a dead writer* Yes, Hawthorne... yes, exactly.
I'm hoping to finish off this revision completely and email it to Sarah tomorrow. (This will make me a wreck while I'm waiting for her reply.) She is talking about sending me a hardcopy of revision notes which, frankly, scares the crap out of me and will be my first real experience with a gritty red pen editing type deal. I might go out and stockpile a case of Mt. Dew for that. It might be the only way.
In other news, my kids start school in a week and a half, and my husband will be in Hawaii all week on a business trip. Fate, you crazy minx... you do like to mix it up, don't you? This week should be interesting. (In the previous sentence, "interesting" actually means "likely to suck hard, hairy, grimy rocks." So, that's interesting, huh?)
I have more in my brain to blog about, but I need to get to this revision and knock it out. So, some other time... *blows kisses*
If you know a writer, go give them a hug because sometimes writing isn't fun and I don't know why we do it other than it's in our blood. I just hope this is what Sarah and the film agent wanted because... well, this was some damn hard writing.