Sunday, July 29, 2007


We have a wonderful ability in our day and age. A truly incredible thing.

It's called the Save function.

Now, I'm not talking about the regular use of the save function which is--as the Gamer's Creed declares, "Save Early; Save Often." We've all lost paragraphs, pages, chapters, or--if we're quite unfortunate--more, because we forgot to save. But that's simply level one. I want to take you to the next level of the Save function.

This level is one I see writers lamenting about all the time. What typically happens is that an agent (hopefully the writer's agent at this point, but not necessarily. A lot of agents do this before signing) calls up a writer and tells them all the things they like about their book.

But . . . .

It's too long. It's too short. It's too slow. It has too many characters. The pacing is off, etc. But they would like to see a revision.

This is where the lamenting begins.

Writers worry about a myriad of things at this point. Am I selling out? What if I make it worse? What if I don't like it? What if I make the changes and the agent still doesn't sign me? Some people even get two or three steps ahead of themselves and worry about things like what if it sells and the editor wants me to change exactly what I already changed for my agent!?!

Relax!! The Save function is here for you!

Seriously though. I always have to shake my head a little. Every reasonable author I know has their manuscript saved in at least two places and often more. So why not take one of those copies, tuck it away somewhere, and start making revisions? If you don't like them, you can go back to the original. If you cut too much, you can go back and copy/paste scenes back in. If you completely ruin the whole thing, you still have that original copy saved on your computer and you can delete the other and pull it out, safe and sound.

Revisions are not written in stone. I would venture to say that 90% of the time they should be, but that's a whole other subject.:) The point is, you have nothing to lose by experimenting with your story. But you have everything to gain! If all you gain from doing a revision is that you realize you had a fan-freaking-tastic story to begin with that was perfect just the way it was? Well then you learned an important lesson, didn't you? And as long as you saved your original file, you still have that awesome story waiting for you, just the way you left it.

Can you tell I'm entering the revision stage again? (Again is so relative.:))I'm actually taking one of my projects and--at the suggestion of my agent--revamping it into a YA. Am I going to save my original somewhere? Youbetcha. Probably two or three places, just to be sure. But I'm excited. It's going to be fun! There'll be a lot of age changing and pace quickening and--of course--cutting, cutting, cutting. But hopefully when I'm done, I'll have a better novel.

And if not, the Save function will save me.:)



ORION said...

this is a great post --
My agent made suggestions for Lottery -- some I kept and some got dropped. You never know how it will read.
This year has really taught me to not fear revisions and leap right in. All books need it.

Cheryl said...

I had this same idea when I started revisions for my editor recently. I was really worried about changing too much--I was really scared that I was only making my ms worse.

But I decided to save a copy of my old version and completely go nuts with a new, revised version. It helped, too, that my title has been changed. I can really let go of the old book with the old title and accept that the new version will be different.

David L. McAfee said...

First off, Aprilynne, Happy Belated Birfday to you! :) I know it was last Thursday, but I wasn't online much during my vacation and didn't get a chance to say it.

Also, I like this post because it parallels my own thoughts. I have no less than 4 copies of my current WIP at any given moment. One on my home PC, one on my laptop, one on my work PC, and one on my jump drive. Whenever I change one, I save fresh copies all around. Mostly because I am paranoid that my comps are going to gang up on me someday. But this enables me to make changes, sometimes BIG changes, to one copy and leave the others as they are. If I like the changes, I save the new version as "XXXXXX-A" or something like that.