Tracy Marchini

Revisions and Meatloaf


I’m about to dive into a big revision, which is exciting, and daunting at the same time. Here are the things that I worry about during a revision:

Will I make it worse?
Sometimes we’ll request a manuscript, ask for revisions, get it back and the life has been sucked out of it. Or it reads like a patchwork quilt suddenly, with random chunks of material stuffed in like a … bag of overstuffed… stuffing? (Admission: I am waiting for my meatloaf to cook. I’m starving, and my eyes are puffy. I cry like a baby when I cut onions. Moving on.)

Where do I start?
Knowing what you have to do with a book is great. Sometimes though, deleting that first sentence feels like pulling on a loose thread on a sweater. (For better or worse… and that metaphor was definitely better than the last.) Once you start pulling, you could find the entire book unraveling in your hands. Even meatloaf can’t fix that.

When am I done?
I think I’m done when I know the book so well that I’m not even reading my own words anymore. Like, if you’re reading the book and suddenly there’s a moist, succulent meatloaf getting in the way of your protagonist, and they must use their fork-tazer to subdue it. Then I think it’s definitely time to put the book aside. (God, meatloaf takes forever. I’m going to fork-tazer myself soon enough.)

How do I start?
I start by outlining the book, taking each chapter and breaking down the major events. Some people write out the scenes on index cards and rearrange them, and I used to cut up my papers in college into paragraphs and rearrange them to see if there was an order that was more logical, but the thought of rearranging three hundred index cards makes me want to vomit a little. (Props though, to those that can do it!)

What are your revision fears? And, is anybody else as ready for dinner as I am?

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This entry was posted on September 30, 2009 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , .

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