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Revisions are my problem. And they’re also my solution.

Great books aren't written—they're rewritten

Thinking strategically is the the key to revising a novel

Thinking strategically is the the key to revising a novel


I believe I stole that title from the dialogue of a movie—possibly Bridesmaids, one of my favorite films ever. Yep, the memory bank is kicking in—Melissa McCarthy’s character, Megan, lambasts the central character, Annie, for wallowing in her own loser-ness. She says: Annie, you created your problem—you ARE your problem. But you’re also your solution.

So, that’s where I find myself. Back in the spring, my editor pointed out the central problem with the manuscript of my novel, The Girl From Oto. In a nutshell, my story is about a girl from Oto. But the manuscript wasn’t really about that girl until 150 pages in, and frankly, she spent the next 150 pages being a total wuss. When she finally womaned up, she got amazing.  I knew my editor was right—she needed to get amazing much, much sooner. About 250 pages sooner.

Revising is an art, and as a longtime editor who cannot read anything without conducting a silent edit in my mind, I enjoy the process of revision. But this is the first time I have revised a novel. It has been humbling, and at times so frustrating that I wonder if I will ever complete it.

Just today, I’m happy to report, I turned a corner. I have spent a lot of time building up my protagonist’s role and deepening her character. I’ve added sharp edges to her and given her challenges and conflicts to face. I’ve eliminated some of the backstory about my beloved supporting characters, suppressed some key plot developments for use in the sequel and beyond, and reserved some essential storyline elements in a prequel that informs the entire story arc.

One of the most difficult tasks of this revision process has been to know what to eliminate and what to bring into greater focus; what to hide and what to reveal. Thinking strategically is a critical component of revision, and let’s just say I’m not a left-brain person. But I am grateful for this challenge, because it has made me a better strategic thinker and in the end it will make my novel more compelling.

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