Tag Archives: diva

Kiss Me, Kill Me Tuesday – Revisions

It seems somehow appropriate on this dreary and rainy Tuesday to discuss something about which all writers worry. No, not the Dreaded Synopsis.

Revisions.

It’s especially appropriate since I just turned in a manuscript which required revisions and since at my Saturday workshop someone asked, “What do you do when someone asks you to change your work?”

The answer was simple: You do the revisions.

It’s one of those things that I often warn aspiring authors about – being a diva. I’ve heard more than one writer say that they won’t make any changes to their work and I often wonder whether they’ll ever get published or if they do, will they be able to sustain a career.

Although some believe that editors are like carpenters with a hammer and nail, give them paper and a pen and they want to make changes, the reality of it is that editors know the market and what’s selling. They understand voice and pacing and conflict. They oftentimes will see past what’s on the page to what the writer wants to accomplish because many times the writer has become so involved in their work and knows it so intimately that they fail to get what’s up in their heads down on paper.

It’s the editor’s job to make sure that gets done and a good editor will accomplish just that.

What if what the editor wants you to do is totally different than what you want to do?

That’s a tough situation for sure and the answer is not so simple. The first thing to do is divest your ego from the work. Look at it as an outsider would. Are the editor’s comments justified? Do you think that they might possibly make the work better or more marketable? If the answer is “yes”, then take a moment and try rewriting the first ten or so pages with the editor’s suggestions.

Now step back and look at it again. Is it better? More marketable? Then dig in and start rewriting.

You may have noticed that I’ve used that “marketable” word multiple times already because the reality is that if you’re writing commercial fiction (as in selling to the mass market), what you’re writing needs to sell. That means it needs to meet certain reader and bookseller expectations.

Your editor is the one who can best tell you whether or not you’ve managed to do that.

If you’re still not convinced about all the changes, then try a conciliatory approach rather than a confrontational one. For example, when I first wrote DARKNESS CALLS one of the revision requests was that I have the heroine, Diana Reyes, become a vampire at the end of the novel. In my heart I felt that the story was much too complicated and rich for that kind of ending. I also felt that there would be greater emotion and impact for the readers if the characters had that conflict hanging over their heads – Love me even though I will die before you do. It spoke of a much greater love and commitment if Ryder and Diana chose to get together despite that fact.

I discussed it with my editors and we agreed I would write the ending as I envisioned it and that if it did not work, I would revise it. Bottom line was, the ending worked and we left it as is. Everyone was happy with the compromise we reached initially and the end result.

So the bottom line is, be open to change. Be willing to compromise. Your editors know what’s best and what’s selling. Trust them to help you craft a better book.

Thoughts on a Writer’s Life

The last two Thoughtful Thursdays I’ve been talking about Liberty, but as I mentioned during the blog on Big Brother and Big Government, Liberty is tough without having Life first.

On bigger levels, I hope that our leaders understand what they need to do to keep America safe.

On individual levels, there’s a lot we can do to safeguard ourselves, but today I want to talk about a writer’s life.

It’s not an easy life at times. If you’re not good with handling criticism or rejection, it’s probably not a good career choice.

If you’re in it for the big bucks, it’s probably also not a good choice.

If you’re in it because you have lots of stories in your head that you want to share with others — then a writer’s life is perfect for you!

So how is it that I decided to become a writer? If you’ve checked out my bio, you may know that in the fifth grade my teacher assigned a project – for us to write a book to be placed in a class lending library. The thought intrigued me so that I went home and started writing. When it came time to turn in the book, it was 120 typed pages (My poor mom worked at night for days to get it done!).

I knew then I writed a book, but for far longer than that, I’d had stories in my head.

I remember going to sleep at night and making up stories of princes, intrigue and sword fights (I always was on the dark side). The next night I would continue the story in my head, always moving it along.

After fifth grade, I started putting more and more ideas on paper and that continued throughout high school, college and even law school. So during all that time I was a writer.

Which brings me to the next thing – you don’t have to be published to be a writer. Writers write whether for just themselves or to share it with others. Thanks to the Internet, there are lots of ways to share your stories and satisfy the need to write.

So what made me decided to get published? For starters, and I am dating myself, there really wasn’t much in the way of the Internet back then for everyday people. The only way to share your stories was to go the traditional route of reaching out to a commercial publisher and having them buy your book.

With that in mind, I set out to get published and it took some time. At least six or seven years, but eventually it happened. I never gave up when I got rejection after rejection. I never lost sight of the dream that I had.

I also didn’t quit my day job. Which I guess brings me back to some tips I’d like to share with both pre-published and published writers!

1. Don’t quit your day job. Being a paid writer is an iffy proposition and economic worries will only be a drain on your creativity.

2. Don’t let rejection pull you down. You will not sell every novel you write. No one does (Well, except Nora Roberts although I’m sure she didn’t at first). Think of it as a ball game where .300 is a decent batting average. That’s one out of every 3 and ball players still get picked to play!

3. Learn to separate the wheat from the chaff. You may participate in critique groups or get “good” rejection letters from editors and agents. Be open to changes that are suggested, but learn how to separate bad suggestions from the good. You’ll have to trust your gut about that.

4. Don’t be a diva. Be willing to make changes and listen to what others say, especially editors and agents.

5. Join a support group. There is a reason why AA and Weight Watchers work. You need to be surrounded by people who understand what you are going through and can share their experience with you. They will also hopefully provide information on what’s happening in the industry and help you make contacts. (It is now time for a shameless plug for my local writing group – the Liberty States Fiction Writers – who is holding a marvelous conference on March 13th!)

6. Stay active. Writing is a both a solitary and sedentary life. With respect to the sedentary, try to move around during stints of writing and get some exercise!

7. Don’t lose sight of your dream! It’s not an easy road, but if you turn back, you will never reach your destination.

Hope you enjoyed today’s thoughts on a writer’s life!