Saturday, 26 January 2013

How Many Rewrites Are Too Many? There's No set Rule.

Those who've been following my blog know I've spent the last four weeks revising and rewriting entire slabs of my first manuscript. Why? After sending it to a reputable publisher I received a two page report outlining what they loved about it and what it needed to bring it to publishing standard. And after much thought and discussion with my beta readers, I had to agree and I got to work.
I also realised, when I thought my manuscript was complete, it wasn't. It always takes another - neutral - pair of eyes to see the problems.

So, what changes have I made?

1. Reduced the word length from 134,000 words to 120,000. It's surprising how much superfluous information an author can include in their work. It may look great, but overall it doesn't advance the story, nor does it enhance character development. This particularly refers to back stories. If it's not relevant to the current scene, leave it out!
These days, most authors have a website, and it's a wonderful place to showcase those so-called unnecessary deleted chapters. That way, it provides readers with extra information about some of their favourite characters.

2. I've introduced an extra element at the beginning of the story, that creates tension between my two protagonists. And this isn't resolved until the end of the book. Hopefully, the reader is kept guessing as to the real intentions of the male lead.

3. There are several action scenes in the book, but I left the most dramatic till the end. It answers all questions, rounds off the story and provides a satisfactory conclusion.
In essence what I did was restore my book to it's original form, before I split it (in the wrong place) on the advice of another publisher.

4. I added a couple of romantic scenes (Yes! There's sex in it!) Originally I intended including only one, but somehow my characters bullied me into adding another and I must admit, they were right. It needed another to show how far my protagonists have come on their journey with each other.

5. Lastly, I added an epilogue. This isn't always necessary, but because my book is part of a series, it provides a taste of what the reader can expect in Book 2.
Besides that, I also provided my future readers with a complete glossary of terms, characters and places and a genealogy of the Dantonvilles.
The more we give our readers, the better the chance they'll beg for more!

Overall, I've now rewritten, revised and edited this manuscript at least twenty times. There's no set rule. It's ready, when it's ready. That simple. And every author knows when that time is.
I think I'm there.
So, what's next?
I've sent the manuscript off and the waiting game begins!

I'd love to know how other authors have rewritten their MS and if they were happy with the end result. Did it lead to a publishing contract?


fjf said...

With my recent novel I was sure a traditional editor would say, 'Oh, God! You can't do that!' and insist on major revisions...

... to which my answer would have been, 'Sorry, no.'

I'm stubborn and arrogant, and will probably never be a successful author.

Tima Maria said...

There's nothing wrong with sticking to your convictions, especially if you believe your novel to be just the way you like it. I took a step back and saw mine from the editor's perspective and agreed with some of her conclusions.
Good luck with your novel - hope it's a success.