Revision Week: How Rachel Tackles Them
Revisions. Revise it. Rev it. Rev it up.
Pedal to the metal, keyboard, it is time to make this baby sing.
The above is the attitude you should have when revising. You need to be positive, motivated, with a road ahead of you to take and a car to get you there.
But if you have any experience in the publishing world, you know that the above attitude can sometimes be hard to reach. Of course, like with most other emotions, we all feel them differently and at different times, but I think I can say for the rest of us writers that we sometimes feel a little lost. We don’t know what to do with our great works or how it should be done – we just know something has to be done to get the book to selling quality.
I’d felt lost like this hundreds of times before my novel The Virginity Thief was discovered by Natalie Fischer of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. Natalie is what the industry calls an “editing agent,” meaning that she works with the author to make the novel the best it can be before pushing it out of the nest and sending it to work. Before those talents of hers came into my life, my methods of revising were to critique my writing and worry about every tiny line, bit of dialogue, and comma placement. As you can guess, even after days of editing I still knew deep down that more work needed to be done. But what exactly needed the work was my blind spot. I was disorganized and quite frankly lazy in my efforts when it came to plot – I was determined my story was wonderful and while I could bash my writing I wasn’t so thrilled to accept that the fiction itself could possibly be flawed.
Then came Natalie. She read the novel with an objective seller’s eyes and pointed everything out. I needed to expand on this, I needed to be more clear here, Mari Abdo’s motivations needed to be more apparent right there… she took my motivation and gave me a car and a road to drive it on. An agent can clear the cobwebs from an author’s brain. In the words of a friend, authors view their novels as “masterpieces” and “may not be able to see past the wall of fog” while their agent can do so and guide them in the right direction.
Revising with Natalie doesn’t make the job “easier”, though. I used to think “I can’t wait to revise with an agent,” for some reason assuming that editing with a professional on my side was less difficult than when I was on my own. I still have to slog through pages and pages of words I may be starting to wish I’d never have to see again. I still have to write and rewrite new and old scenes. Never assume that the actual dirty work will magically disappear. In my case, it was simply a matter of someone telling me where to work so that my labor would actually bring about wonderful change.
The day to day interaction between an agent and an author is unique for every relationship, but I know one thing is universal. When agent and author “click” and feel deeply about a work, together they can turn the novel into perfection. A great deal of that work is from the agent’s side, guiding the author to what needs to be done.