Hello, writers. Sorry for the mix-up w/WO last week. I was unable to post—the “publication manager” dialogue box did not come up on my screen-- so I sent off frantic emails to cfk, quarkstomper and GussieFN. The latter posted it around 9 pm eastern time, and I hope some of y’all found it—I had trouble staying on the site. Dial-up issues.
Here’s what’s gone on in my writing life in the last week:
Long talk with my editor about a revision which needs to be in by January 7th. Yikes.
Author copies of Jinx arrived. Yay!
2nd talk with my editor in which she told me she’s leaving for another publisher. Gack!
I developed reviser’s block. Sigh.
Anyway. This revision is a bear of a revision, let me tell you. I have to keep reminding myself of GussieFN’s rule that editors are always right when they tell you there’s a problem, but not so much when they tell you what to do about it.
Writers in the past didn’t go through all this. Many of them (Charles Dickens, occasionally Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe, etc.) wrote in serials, published either as booklets or as stories in magazines, which often led to meandering plots and stuff like changing protagonists halfway through, changing from third person to first, and characters who get older and then younger again.
Even a couple generations ago—teh Guru has told me how some of the Golden Age science fiction writers used to write a draft on a typewriter, go through and correct it with a pen, and send it off to the publisher. (Catty comment deleted here.)
Part of the reason we revise so much more nowadays is that computers make it easier. Anyway the result is smoother story-lines and often smoother writing, at least until an author gets so famous that s/he’s sending in rough drafts and they’re getting published. Not necessarily better writing than in the past, you understand. But smoother and more consistent.
I think we’re probably also asked to think about our readers much more than writers in the past were. Our readers are less of a captive audience than in the past, and they’re more likely to complain if they don’t like our characters, don’t like how the story ended, didn’t understand what happened, or found our overuse of similes irritating.
And of course the (comparative!) ease of revision raises the bar for everyone. Which is why, in any genre, you want to have read the classics but you don’t want to be using them as a yardstick for your own writing. For that, you have to read recent stuff. Lots of it.
But you knew that.
Tonight’s challenge:By the way, the publishing industry goes on vacation between Christmas and New Year’s. After New Year’s is a good time for query letters. If you’re at that stage, this article in GalleyCat seems rather helpful.
Rewrite the following line five times, as it might be spoken by five very different characters.“There’s a troll in the girls’ bathroom.”
(With apologies to that lady in Scotland.)
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