A Revision Dilemma

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robertfrost

As I work on my third draft of my second novel, a young adult future speculative book, I have realized that I have an interesting problem from the very beginning of the book. I had spent a fair amount of time drafting and editing the prologue to the novel, and I was reasonably certain that it was pretty good. Certainly, it was not perfect, but still it was in a workable state.

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After an initial read by a few people, I had two completely different responses to the beginning. One person loved the opening and said it would pull a reader into the world of the book; one said that, while it was well-written, it did not seem to lead directly into the plot of the novel.

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I tell my students in my various First Year Writing courses when two peer evaluators suggest that a problem exists in a particular part of their papers, even if then offering disparate solutions, that they should consider very carefully a problem, in that section, does exist. They should consider the various suggestions, but always remembering they are the authors of their own writing, make a decision on revision themselves. No matter what anyone suggests, the author must always retain the final say in the writing. BUT all authors should consider suggestions from all readers they respect.

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I decided that the best way to approach this problem was to write another prologue, one that led directly to the main character and to the plot.

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After I complete that revision, I will read and have the book read with both prologues, one after the other and see which should stay. I think I know which will be better, but for now, I have to wait and see.

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20 thoughts on “A Revision Dilemma

  1. rjfanucchi

    I have two reading peers I always run my work by. I take their suggestions to heart. Like you said, the author has the final say but it’s always good to get an honest critique.

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  2. Before I started writing, I had no idea it could be this complicated. You see, my sister is a writer, and she seems to float along, confidently coming up with book after book with apparent ease. Something I was hoping for, but sadly, every page comes with a price!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you for the comment! I suspect that the image of your sister writing effortlessly is not quite accurate. She probably does a lot of revision that you don’t see. Or, she is the very, very rare writer who can compose without revision. For the rest of us though, draft and revise and revise and revise.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I know the sinking feeling you are experiencing. I am willing to provide another voice to the din, if you like. I do it for a living (or used to, am going to focus on writing now) but I would be happy to give you my two cents’ worth. Then you can read mine in exchange. When I get done, if that ever happens.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nah, that’s why I’m dragging my feet. The first draft flew as I tried to get everything down. Right now it fills like I am filling sandbags. But I have decided to nail my feet to the floor beneath my desk each morning AND NOT DO ANY BLOGGING.
    A friend of mine and I are in setting up an indie publishing house in South Africa, so I will have to be really disciplined from here on. And my book is so close to being done. But I am now at the “what if I wrote rubbish or nobody likes it or I’m crazy to have ever thought I could write” stage.
    Tomorrow I will tackle 30 pages before breakfast, as the section needs light editing. But I have a Roman war looming in the distance and I am no further than “The weasels were as big as cats” point. It is a short chapter, but I am not a war fundi, and even though I studied Roman history, it’s gonna take a little more than using a few Roman terms to make it realistic.
    Writing is scary, because you actually don’t know what is hanging around the corner, just waiting to mug you and nab all your self-confidence.
    I am really interested in reading your paranormal. Stephen Kingish?

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is very exciting news about your friend and you setting up a publishing house—now that must keep you very busy!

      To answer your question about if my paranormal book is Stephen Kingish, I think there is certainly an influence, because my characters face ethical and moral dilemmas that help to drive the story, as often is the case with Stephen King. Otherwise, I am really not sure.

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      • Can’t wait to read it. I love fantasy/paranormal fiction, as I believe there is so much truth that can be relayed this way. I cut my teeth on Stephen King, but left him by the wayside when I became a Christian (yeah, one of those odd people). However, I discovered Ted Dekker and he gives me my dose of dark and weird, yet filled with truths. My own book is not your run of the mill sugar coated (clichés, so many) Christian fiction. After all, who really travels through time and gets to be the one who literally pounds the nails into Jesus’ flesh? I also throw little five year old down elevator shafts, among other things. And my characters are real people with issues and dark corners and stuffed up lives. Well, I hope that’s the way they will come across. Because that pretty much sums me up.
        About the publishing thing: yes, it is exciting. She has 12 years publishing experience and is a complete genius with layout, covers, the printing and distribution scene etc. I have many years editing experience and generally am easy to communicate with I love writers. And we both want to publish, so we decided to offer our combined services to others. The publishing world is in a shambles, yet digital publishing is going through the roof. But some of the stuff available gives self-publishing a bad name, so we want to make inroads into the market here. There is also a gap in the market for something cool, edgy and completely accessible for new writers, so we are looking to making a lot of the stuff available free of charge for the writer and the public, and really get a rapport going between us, the writers and readers. There will be plenty of competitions (where we will give our services free to the winning writers and push their books for them). Publishers are so detached and aloof from the public – they have no choice because it’s about making money.
        Neither of us has to make a lot of money, so we have the advantage of being able to spend our time setting up something that is different and fills the gap. It is really exciting as we were both never in the box to start with. Besides, there are no rules in the publishing game anymore, just the time-honoured one of producing good stuff and getting it out there where people can find it. South Africa is in a dynamic phase and more people are become literate in the broader sense. They want to read good writing that reflects where we are now, and there are so many really, really great writers here who just need a platform.
        I specialised in South African Literary Studies at varsity, and I am head-over-heels (oops, another cliché) with SA writing, so this project is close to my heart.
        Perhaps publishing house is not the right word. It sounds too stuffy and old school. But I can’t think of a better description right now. It’s early days yet (or as one of my characters likes to say “the night is but an embryo”), but you can watch this space for more.
        Thanks for your interest. Please don’t forget my offer. It is a sincere one, and I am intrigued. Okay, just plain nosey.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for a wonderful reply, and I have not forgotten the offer. When we both have drafts ready, we can read them and give feedback. What you are doing is very exciting, and I think you have a great deal of potential with the idea. I would like to continued seeing your progress with this venture.

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