Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Rewrite

This week I am busy doing the rewrite for Crimson Eve, third in the Kanner Lake series. This is the book I finished last November. (It releases this coming September.)

Guess what I’m seeing. The usual suspects.

Nothing earth-shaking in the rewrite. No story structure changes, not one scene I have to throw out or redo. Everything’s basically OK, except two major issues:

1. Voice. All my characters sound too much alike. It’s my own author’s voice coming through, rather than their own. Not good.

2. Overwriting. Just too much fancy description. As I showed you in last week’s scene from Coral Moon—cut, cut, cut.

Really, the big issue is voice. As I correct the voice for each character, I naturally cut the extra description.

What astounds me is that these same issues come up every time. Why can’t I just get them right for once? Each time I write a new book, I think, “I will not over-describe, I will not over-describe.” Now look at me—cutting away.

Guess I could look on the bright side. My story structure’s strong. I don’t have trouble with pacing, dialogue, tension, POV, etc. So … man, if I could just fix the voice/description thing, I’d be great.

It’s amazing the way this process works. I let the manuscript sit after I’ve finished it. Don’t look at it at all. By the time I receive the editorial letter, at least a month has passed, usually longer. I can look at the manuscript with fresh eyes. Still, even my fresh eyes won’t see everything. Then I read something in the editorial letter—and boing! The problems just jump right out at me. Suddenly every page looks to me like a beginner wrote it. I mean it; the stuff’s awful. “Oh, sheesh, what was I thinking?”

That insightful editor is what I need to open my eyes. Can’t imagine not having a good editor. Actually, I can, and the thought isn’t pretty. Not for me or anyone else. I read too many novels that make me question where the editor was.

So my hat is off to Karen Ball this week. Sadly, this is the last time we’ll work together. Can you believe she left freelancing to take a job as fiction acquisitions editor for Broadman & Holman? Man. Leave me out in the cold, will ya.

Karen will be great for B&H. I hope after she’s been there a little while she’ll grant F&F an interview—give us an inside peek at what kinds of fiction she’s looking for.

Pardon me now while I return to fixing my horrendous writing. All you folks out there who read my novels—you can thank your lucky stars for Karen. She makes sure the writing’s good by the time it gets into your hands.


Cara Putman said...

I'm still waiting for my first editorial letter -- late this month I hope. I'm terrified and excited at the same time. Will they hate my writing? What will I get to learn so I can improve with the next book? Ack!

At the same time, a friend has let me into the editorial process she goes through. What an eye-opener. Loved the glimpse! Editors just want to make us look better by buliding the story and knocking it up a notch.

Whatever process you go through works, Brandilyn. I've never read a book I couldn't inhale nor handed it to a friend who hasn't become a fan.

Kristy Dykes said...

So how do you correct the voice for each character? Give them an identifying tic (push their glasses up their nose type thing)? Tweak their dialogue? Their interior monologue?

Yes, I'd like to read an interview with Karen Ball at B&H.

BTW, she just gave me, Kristy D., some great advice over at Charis Connection in her "Ask the Editor" post. Great advice for any writer.

Lynetta said...

Not only does Karen have a terrific reputation as an editor, she is a fun-loving ball of fire, too! I met her this summer at Oregon Christian Writer's Summer Conference. You could always tell where her table was in the dining hall from the sounds of raucous laughter. Hard not to love, that gal.

Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Brandily, I'm sure the Zondervan folks are heaving many sighs of relief that they locked you up long term! ;-)


Anonymous said...

Okay, I get your point. *Note to self: make sure I get a great editor.*

Thanks for the insights on writing. Your blog rocks!

Bonnie S. Calhoun said...

Brandilyn, when you turn in a manuscript, how many words do you usually start out with...and after the ruthless editing, how many do you have left?

Eden said...

I'm looking forward to reading Crimsom Eve. Sorry to hear about Karen. Maybe she'll have time to do some freelancing for you.

~ Brandilyn Collins said...

Bonnie, I'll get to your question in another future blog post on rewriting. Blessings, girl!

Anonymous said...

The only editor besides my comp. teacher I have ever had is my Mom. :D

I am really, really, looking forward to reading the rest of "Kanner Lake"! Keep up the great work!

Al Newberry said...

"Each time I write a new book, I think, “I will not over-describe, I will not over-describe.” Now look at me—cutting away."

That's why you keep doing it. It's like trying NOT to think of a pink elephant. Your mind always does what you try hard NOT to do.