Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Revisions Reflection

I mailed my revised manuscript to Silhouette Romantic Suspense last night. I had set a deadline for myself of a month based on feedback from other Harlequin authors and was pleased I met the deadline with no problem. More than proving I can/am willing to make changes in a timely manner, knowing I had four weeks prevented me from reviewing one scene again and again or obsessing about the editor's comments. When I got stuck on something, I sidelined it, and worked on another area of the manuscript and circled around later. I made continuous progress and felt really good about that.

I also heeded the warning of one Harlequin authors, who mentioned she is careful to leave the parts of the manuscript not commented on alone (unless other changes impact it) since the editor liked the story enough to spend the time on revisions, rewriting the whole book isn't necessary. It was tempting to start major rewrites on every chapter, but I focused my time on the parts of the story the editor suggested needed work.

I realized a number of issues with my work as I revised. While the guidelines spell out these suggestions pretty clearly, reading them and understanding them well enough to execute them are two different animals.

1.) Keep the book in the hero and heroine's point of view. While I have read other SRS/HRS where other POVs are presented briefly, there is limited space to tell the story and making every word count is important.

2.) Start the book with an inciting incident, either something highly emotional or action-packed. Looking at some of my other manuscripts, I realize using the first 20-50 pages to build to an event isn't ideal. Many romantic suspense books I've read start with finding a dead body, an attack on the hero or heroine, or a catastrophic event (plane crash, earthquake). I reconsidered this factor in another book I wrote that had a prologue. Was the prologue critical to the story or was it a place for me to info dump back story? I decided it was the later and removed it.

3.) The sense of danger has to be ever present. At no time should the hero or heroine feel completely safe and comfortable about where they are. The looming threat should drive them closer and propel the romantic relationship. I was careful not to translate this into "more stuff happening," but to build on the existing suspense elements and sharpen/escalate them.

4.) I need to spend more time developing the hero's emotional changes and explaining why he makes the decisions he does regarding the heroine. This was trickier to execute, to make it clear he is impossibly drawn to the heroine in such a way that even the internal and external stakes don't keep him away and why he chooses to either act on that attraction or squelch it.

Next Steps:
After I mail the manuscript, I set it aside. I try not to obsess about getting to the mailbox every day to see if I have a response. I focus on the next book, which has got to be stronger than the last by applying what I learned!

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