Sunday, 23 May 2010

Editing in Action

My most recent novel came back from the editor with the request that I 'looked again' at the opening scene. It's a big party scene, with two plot-important conversations (A and B) interspersed with an inconsequential - but I hoped, funny - interchange (X). So the scene went, intro, X A X B. The editor wanted for the X scenes to be joined, or cut, or moved, or in some way changed as she felt the flow wasn't right.

I started a long email explaining why I'd chosen that configuration. There needed to be a run up to conversation A, and you couldn't have A and B right next to each other, so X A X B was the absolutely perfect order. As I wrote my justification, I thought as a concession I'd try XAB, but that obviously didn't work. I tried A B - no, it definitely needed the X in-between. AXB was on the surface the straightforward choice, but that would mean rewriting the intro, rewriting the X interchange, writing a completely new run up to the A conversation. As I wrote explaining why my first choice had been the right one, I could feel this new scene in action, how it would flow.

I looked at my long, long email full of self-justification and realised: I didn't want to change the order simply because it meant more work. After a short bout of internal wrestling I deleted the email and wrote another, shorter one. You're quite right, I wrote to my editor. I'll do it.

And I did. And it was better.

My next event will be speaking at Corsham Library, Wiltshire with fellow New Romantics Lucy Diamond and Veronica Henry 3rd June at 7.30pm. Come and join us!


Karen said...

That's so funny!

I've had to do a lot of revising of my first novel for my agent. When the proposed changes first came in I immediately resisted, mentally, thinking 'but I wrote it like that for a reason' blah, blah blah, before accepting that my main bone of contention was the amount of hard work I was going to have to put in to change it.

Of course I did it, and the story's (hopefully!) much improved as a result :o)

Sarah Duncan said...

Glad you agree with me on this one Karen. I find that once I've accepted the changes, it's never as much work as I think it's going to be. Good luck with your novel!