Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Somebody Stop Me

Sometime toward the end of next week, I plan to send my revisions off to my agent. This week I'm giving the ms an alleged final read to catch anything that bothers me at the last minute. That sounds easy enough, doesn't it? The only problem is, I am apparently one of those people who can't stop fussing. As I go through my manuscript I can't seem to stop myself from making at least one change each page. "I can find a better word here," I say. "I don't like this sentence; I don't think I need it, either, so I'll just cut it." Really, enough is enough. But things keep catching my eye and am compelled to fix them. A lot of these little changes are questions of style rather than actual errors and aren't--strictly speaking--necessary, but I have learned to trust my instincts. Though there are three or so pages of dialog between two of the main characters and when I read these pages last night I had no clue what they were talking about. Maybe I was just tired. I'll have to look at them again tonight.

The good news is that, even though I've read this book a bazillion times over the last three years, I still like it. I think it's a good book. It's not perfect, but I'll admit that I am, yes, proud of the work I've done. Let's just hope that my agent is equally impressed. Otherwise, I'll have to rewrite it and put in a bunch of zombies and sparkly vampires.

22 comments:

  1. Dude! If you throw in dead things, I'll read it. Otherwise hand me a boredom bag, so I can vomit while enduring the monotony of your un-undead prose.

    I know exactly what you mean about excessive revisions, and I say that as a person who knows exactly what you mean, and not as one of the people who just thinks they know exactly what you mean but has no flippin' clue what you mean. So, I offer this splendid piece of advice: set a limit (I know, you're crying about lost creativity at this point). Say, "Hey, I'll read this chapter one more time, correct whatever I want, then stop." Do that for anything you can't refrain from revisiting. Of course, if you change Horatio's hair color in chapter five, you'll need to revisit every chapter mentioning his hair color. But even in such a circumstance, change only what needs to be changed; force your eyes to focus only on the stuff that needs reworking to sustain continuity.

    Don't you remember when I told you about the horror of revising The Environmentalist? I kept wanting to play with it, but I set a limit, half-way adhered to it, then submitted the story. It worked better than slapping my hand over and over.

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  2. Justus: Yeah, I know. I know. Really, I do know, and I say that as somebody who does really know. You know? Anyway, I have a deadline, so I my limit is already there. I've already made a rule for myself that I can only look at each chapter once, though I do get to re-read the abovementioned iffy dialog because it made absolutely no sense to me. I think I was too tired to read at that point. Don't harsh on my last-minute panic.

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  3. Ha ha. Hey, I'm sorry about the harshing, but I wanted to give you sound advice. So I apologize if it bothered you, but what can I do other than let sorrow reign in my heart for another minute or two? Anyway, whatever, pal. I'm never helping you again. Boohoo!

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  4. When I read your comments to each other I feel like I'm eavesdropping on Nabokov and Dr. Suess.

    Scott, I think it's absolutely fine that you keep revising. At some point you'll probably change things and then start changing them back again. Then you'll know you're saturated. And, like you said, you have the deadline coming up. Then you'll have to stop. Well, you won't really have to, but you probably will.

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  5. I do the same thing. Good luck with that section of dialog tonight!

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  6. I think you're fine tuning is okay. It's not like your scrapping whole pages or anything. You're tweaking, and tweaking can be very good. You won't be able to do it much longer with your deadline anyway, so... Good luck!

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  7. Davin: I may already be changing things back. I got a distinct feeling of deja-vu last night when messing with a couple of passages. I'm lucky I have a deadline. Though I must wonder: if I didn't have the deadline, would I be so manic about these last-minute tweaks? Causal relationships are teh hard.

    Am I Nabokov or Seuss?

    ElanaJ and lotusgirl: Thanks for the luck! I can't promise I won't scrap whole pages, though. I've clearly gone mad.

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  8. I think we all would probably revise forever if we could. There has to a stopping point! You can be marking up your bound and published book! Can't wait to read it...the premise is great!

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  9. Way more people read Seuss than read Nabokov. Seuss' books have had much wider influence. So eat yer green eggs 'n' ham and be happy.

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  10. Oh please no zombies or vampires. Please, Scott, no.

    I'm a fusser, too. I'm constantly fiddling with stuff. Why can't I just leave it alone? Sad thing is that I do this with photography, cleaning, talking, everything. It's frustrating and disturbing. We should join a fiddler-anonymous group or something. :)

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  11. Michelle: Okay, no zombie vampires or vampire zombies. Tonight I'm pleased with the changes I'm making. They're little things, but the prose gets better as I go along. I'm feeling very confident. Anyway, I'm a Virgo. Fussing is what I do best.

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  12. When does Vamlet come out? I hear it's a monsterpiece.

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  13. :) I would read Vamlet. For the record, Justus is Nabokov. Or am I just being controversial? Hmmm...

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  14. *I* would read Vamlet. His dead father could be his undead father. His mother could have made him into a vampire with a curse. Fortinbras as Van Helsing. Ophelia as Lucy. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern both as Renfield. It's brilliant. Really, it is. I can't believe someone isn't working on it right now.

    Justus tells me his latest book is based in part on "Lolita."

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  15. Sparkly vampires has been done before, but I believe sparkly zombies would be new.

    Question: Could a zombie eat a vampire's brain? I've always believed that a vampire could not drink a zombie's blood. Per Anne Rice, the blood of the dead can be fatal to a vampire. I would guess the blood of the undead would be worse.

    Congrats on your re-write. You I know I expect a signed copy when it is published...

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  16. Ha! I titled my book "Loleata." It's a story about how one zombie went against the morés of undead society.

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  17. Rick: Those are important questions only now being investigated by our top zombologists and vampirologists. I don't accept Ms. Rice as a top expert, but tradition seems to indicate that vampires require the blood of the living, but that zombies just eat flesh. I'm sure zombies could happily chow down on a corpse. But undead brains? Would you end up with an undead zombie? A sparkly undead zombie vampire?

    I'll see how many author copies I get of the book. The number gets smaller every year as publishers cut costs, you know. They'll probably offer me 25 kindle versions.

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  18. Hey Rick,
    We're going to BUY Scott's book. Show some support! :)

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  19. Davin: I <3 U.

    Actually, I plan to give all but two of my free copies away to local bookstores and reviewers.

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  20. I hear ya! I have a full and two partials out and I shouldn't be changing anything while agents have it, but I just can't help it. Then I beat myself up and think "oh I should have made those changes before I sent it." Writers, I think we're all a little OCD.

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  21. Karen: It's a sickness, really it is. There should be support groups for people like us.

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