Tuesday, April 20, 2010

It's That Time Again


No, I'm not talking about taxes. I got them all finished and mailed on April 12th. I'm talking about Revisions. Oh, yeah. I've finished the first draft of my current Kelly Flynn Knitting Mystery and am ready to dive into "Revisions, Round One." I put my manuscripts through at least five or six rigorous revisions before sending it to my editor. Then, she gets a crack at it.

As many of you have heard me say before, I always write my novels straight through first with minimal revisions. If it jumps out at me, I fix it. Otherwise, I keep telling the story. I've been writing this way for years and years, starting when I was writing historicals. I had a very experienced multi-published author tell me years ago: "Unless you've got the story down on paper, you've got nothing to talk about, let alone revise." Her motto was: Tell the story first. Then, you start looking for the problems.


And, once you start looking--boy, do you find them. I'll find that I need another scene here or need to re-write a scene there, need to move the clues I've planted---stuff like that. Other times, I'll find that something isn't working with a secondary character and lo and behold---they'll morph right in front of my eyes. That's happened so many times, I've almost come to expect it. 

Characters are alive as far as I'm concerned, and they'll often do things I hadn't planned. Of course, that means I have to re-plot around these headstrong players, but that's par for the course for a novelist. I learned a long time ago that characters had a mind of their own, and I needed to pay attention. After all----it's their story, not mine.

For those of you who are writing fiction, have you had any surprises from your characters lately?

10 comments:

Sheila Connolly said...

Ah, revisions. You want them when? (I'm racing a deadline because my editor will be going on maternity leave soon, and I really want her to read them, rather than trying to break in a new editor in the middle of edits).

Said editor wants to swap two chapters, just trade places. Each is entire unto itself. I think she's right (as she often is)--so why didn't I see it?

In another book (that I'll get back to just as soon as I finish six other things), I had an unexpected character just walk in the door: a union electrician with a passion for Philadelphia baseball history. What I know about baseball might fill a thimble. Time for more research--just as soon as I finish revising!

Deb Baker said...

Book 2 in the Queen Bee series is due May 15th and I'm working hard to finish the first draft. Although I revise as I go so rewrites shouldn't be too bad.
My characters have lives of their own. Can't control them! Which makes writing fun.

signlady217 said...

Sounds like you've got your work cut out for you for a few days! Can't wait to read the finished product!

Maggie Sefton said...

Sheila---I love the union electrician who's a Philly baseball fan. Start memorizing stats.

Maggie Sefton said...

Deb---I know what you mean. My characters are alive and very much real people. And they fascinate me. Makes writing lots of fun.

Maggie Sefton said...

Signlady----You bet I do. But it's more than a few days. It takes six weeks at least. The first revision is big and messy and they progressively tighter and tighter.

Sheery said...

What a great post to read! I was halfway through writing a book a couple of months ago and the secondary characters started telling their own story. It was SO hard not to start writing it.

Also, a couple of nights ago I actually had a dream about my two main characters in my current work. I felt really weird about that until I decided to write what I had dreamed into the book. LOL

Heather Webber said...

About a week before my last deadline I had a new character show up out of the blue that demanded page time. ARGH! Lots of last minute revisions with that book.

Maggie Sefton said...

Sheery---Whoa, girl! Those secondary characters are trying to tell you something. Spend some time with a legal pad and pen and see what they have to say. They may have a new subplot or an entirely new story they want to be the main leads. Who knows?

meanwhile, good job on incorporating your dream into your plot. That's cool!

Maggie Sefton said...

Doncha love these characters that show up on our pages? I'll bet you were working like mad, girl.