On this episode of MomWrites… Jennie’s got big news about her kid (adulting!) and feelings are had, Abby’s kids take the initiative in cleaning and bust the vacuum, and we actually do talk some writing – Mel’s revision documents! Oh, and did I mention this was all recorded on Facebook Live? Yeah….
The goal here in revision is this: you want your book good enough to go out, but not so good that you can’t change it. It needs to be good enough to be accepted by an agent and publisher, but malleable enough to change via feedback—this is what happens with most books anyway; there are things about it the agent or publisher is going to want to change to make it more sellable. Sometimes, as with Kelly Barnhill and The Girl Who Drank the Moon, she was asked to rewrite it a third time into a totally different story! And that obviously worked, but it doesn’t always have to be that way.
Every writer wants to be read—it’s all about how you want to get your story to the readers. If you traditionally publish, your book is going to go through many hands before it sees the shelf. If you self-publish you retain a lot of that control, but there’s a lot more work on your end. It’s important you ask yourself what you envision your work to be, how do you get it closer to the vision you have in your head? Any advice that takes you away from that is something you may want to think twice about. But consider taking the advice that helps you get there.
Mel’s goal for this revision is to add some layers, depth, and clarity that weren’t there the first time. Jennie points out that competitive titles help an agent and publisher decide where your book is going to sit on the shelf—now is Mel’s book sci-fi, speculative fiction, medical thriller? She’s shying away from the dystopian fiction genre because although her book takes place in the near future, society isn’t undergoing or has undergone that breakdown that makes dystopia unique.
The book summary is the high-level review that asks the big questions – where’s this book going to live? Who’s going to read it? It’s time to narrow those things down, and narrow down the point of your book, your character, how your character changes over the course of the story—really distill that information so if you had this info on the back of a book jacket, someone could pick it up in the bookstore and know what they’re getting.
One important thing to get right about the force of opposition is that it has to be directly related to what the character is trying to learn. You’re trying to make a point about the big things in life, and you want the force of opposition to be continuously pushing your character in this new direction all the time. It can grow, deepen and change, but this is what we’re talking about when we say we want a revision to make the book more of what it is, what you intended it to be.