Friday, February 5, 2010

Just One More Time

Each time I set out to tackle my manuscript, I qualify it as the “last round of edits”, and I am convinced each time I begin them that it truly is. Closer to the end, I know I'll be back. See, I discuss it here and here. I’ve watched enough movies to know that when you say you’re going to do something one more time, you either get busted by the police or shot. Nothing as tragic as that here – unless I kill over after I suffer a fatal paper cut or stab myself with the red pen. But this time the wait was worth it. I am finally able to see some real problem areas within the manuscript, and have come up with clever ways to fix them. 
I pulled my first prologue, because it was too cheesy and too Twilight. (Not on purpose, but just how it turned out. Heck – it was the first thing I wrote). On the third set of edits, I wrote a new prologue that solved some problems, but created another – lack of consistency.  It was in another person’s POV from the rest of the story, and you don’t hear from him again until near the end. So, I trashed it too and moved on without the prologue, but it was still lacking.
The problem with my manuscript is that the protagonist falls into a world she doesn’t know exists, forced into situations she has no business being in, and the story is how she deals with it. You need to see her in her own environment before stripping it all away from her – and then watch her grow. The story is told in the protagonist’s first person POV. She is light and airy, while the world is dark and sinister.
The reader needs to know what they are getting into. I keep thinking about From Dusk ‘til Dawn.  I apparently missed all the previews and warnings about this movie before watching it. I sat down with my popcorn, and watched George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino be the bad guys. Then about a third into it, more than a normal Act I – BAM! DANCING, EVIL, FUGLY VAMPIRES.  Where the heck did that come from? I love vampire movies; I love horror, but that was not what I thought I was sitting down to watch. Isn’t this the Pulp Fiction guy? Bank robbers, extreme violence, but why the hideous vampires.
I don’t want to ever do that to my readers. Surprise them, keep them guessing, but let them know the story they are curling up with.
So, prologue’s back in, and it is much stronger. It is in the other character’s POV. Just because the reader should know doesn’t mean the protagonist should. She gets to remain clueless. I’m adding a few chapters throughout in his POV. It works, because there were a few other behind the scenes items that I am now able to bring to life. And he is a great character – probably my strongest. Their voices are very distinct from each other – so it is not confusing. And best of all, I get to step back in his head.
I’m very excited about this round of edits. I’m not kidding myself by calling it my last.
What round of edits are you on? How many of them where your “last”? 
Do you fear or embrace the prologue?


  1. Wow, you did put a lot of thought into your revision. I'm not a prologue person; I don't use them myself, but have left if during the draft phase for back story for myself. I always remove it once I get all the necessary info wove into the story. Just my style though.

    I loved FROM DUSK TO DAWN, and I wasn't surprised by the Vampires. Probably because I picked it up in the horror section.

    My round of edits: gazillion, at least. I don't think I'll ever be done until the final copy hits the book stores. Then, it will be too late to agonize.

    Awesome post Aj. Hey I left you an award on my blog. Feel free not to play along.


  2. Is there ever really a "last" revision until it's published? :)

    I've finally reached what I'm calling the last one on one of my novels, though I'm still tweaking a few things here and there. That only took about twenty revisions, most of them major ones.

    Of course, that means it time to start revising another project.

    I don't do prologues. I haven't written a story that felt like it need one yet. Sounds like you have a good reason for needing one.

  3. I met an author who said that when he is doing readings from his novel, which has been in both hardcover and paperback, he is still tempted to tackle it with a red pen. It never stops. :-)

  4. Oh, I could edit until the cows come home. I get way too focused on seeking perfection. There's a point where I usually just have to force myself to step away. Good luck with your revisions!