Monday, July 02, 2007

Revision Revelation

You know how I thought I was almost done my revisions for KNAVE'S HONOR (sequel to THE NOTORIOUS KNIGHT (available now)?

Cue the maniacal laughter.

Because as I was literally taking the last chapter out of my printer at 11 p.m. Friday night, I have a moment of illumination. A revelation. A real slap-myself-on-the-forehead experience.

There is an element of the plot that, if you've been reading my blog, concerns the Big Research Correction that made writing THE NOTORIOUS KNIGHT such an, ahem, interesting experience. Now, it was really important in TNK, and because the main characters in this series are linked by family ties, I felt very strongly that that element had to come into play, at least in some way, in KNAVE'S HONOR. So I put it in at the end.

During our revision discussion, my Esteemed Editor suggested removing it. Completely.

But wait, says I! It's important! Not so much in this book, but having made such a huge deal out of it in the previous book, and considering these characters are related, my readers will surely wonder if I just drop that concern entirely. And it's not as if I dwell on it at any great length. It's about a page.

Okaaaay, EE concedes.

So I am pleased, but I continue to be a tad puzzled by EE's objection. I mean, it was only one page. It's important, and I don't dwell. It's only one page.

Then, on Friday night, it hits me.

If it's so important, why is it only one page?

And then something else strikes me in the next few seconds.

I've got the focus of that part wrong. What is revealed isn't what's important (and in this story, it's really not); it's the fact that by this time in the story, the relationship between the hero and heroine is such that the heroine is absolutely going to believe the hero's explanation, no questions asked.

It's the trust that's important, not the research thing.

So I have some serious rewriting to do of the last two chapters. And as I go through the rest of the manuscript again, I have to be aware of that revelation, and why the hero is loath to tell the heroine. In other words, without adding a lot of internal brooding, I have to make sure to weave that element into the story sooner, and make it more important.

This is another case, I think, of an editor realizing there's a problem with a part of a book, but despite her experience, being unable to say exactly what it is. This can be frustrating for the author, but I'm sure it's no picnic for the editor, either. I mean, they know something needs to be fixed, but can't say exactly what, or give any specific suggestions as to how. And that's (one part of) her job.

To give another example: a different editor initially had problems with the hero of TEMPT ME WITH KISSES. She couldn't say exactly what was wrong with him, though. Just something seemed off -- he lacked a certain edge, perhaps, or something like that.

So back I went to the manuscript, with only the information that something wasn't quite right with the hero, and he maybe seemed a little "soft." Or something.

I phoned her back later that day and said, "He gets too happy too fast."

"Exactly!" cried she.

First thing I did to the text? Every time the hero smiled in the first several chapters, I deleted the smile. There was more to the make-over than that, but that was the first, simple fix.

Now back to KNAVE'S HONOR.

One encouraging thing: many people really liked the final version of Caradoc, the hero of TEMPT OF ME KISSES.

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