Please welcome our new blogger Margaret S. Hamilton to WWK. Look for Margaret's posts on the third Saturday of each month (and sometimes scattered throughout the month).

If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book next year, please contact E. B. Davis at

Our September interviews feature: Judy Penz Sheluk on 9/7, Lesley Diehl on 9/14, Julianne Holmes on 9/21, and Vicki Fee on 9/28.

Saturday Guest Bloggers: Lea Wait 9/3, Jacqueline Vick 9/10, and our Saturday Bloggers--9/17 Margaret S. Hamilton, 9/24 Kait Carson.

Warren Bull has two short stories, "A Christmas Journey" and "Killer Eulogy" in the Darkhouse anthology titled Black Coffee. Available--Now! Warren's short story collection No Happy Endings is also available at Amazon in paper or Amazon for Kindle.

Jim Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available.

KM Rockwood's Abductions and Lies, the 6th in the Jesse Damon Crime Novel series, will be released in April. "Last Laugh," a short story in the anthology Black Coffee is available on Amazon. "Tarnished Hope," a short story in Murder Most Conventional, sponsored by Malice Domestic, April 29, at the conference. "Frozen Assets," a short story in Chesapeake Crimes: Storm Warning, release date May 14th (an anthology compiled by Chessie Chapter of SINC)

Gloria Alden released the seventh book in her Catherine Jewell mystery series, Blood Red Poinsettias, which is available at Amazon. Congratulations, Gloria.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Lost in the Jungles of Final Revision

I’m in the throes of final revisions. Toss me a lifeline. Or at least some really fine imported dark chocolate.

There are several times when writing a novel is no fun. The first is the middle of the book. Middles are always sucky. There’s no way around it. 
They’re swamps that you just have to wade through, never being able to see more than a few inches ahead and full of traps, quicksand, and dangerous predators.

Every writer I know—and some of them are multiple NYT bestsellers—hates herself or himself and the book while in the middle. Once you emerge into the end, the pace steps up, your excitement returns, and you stop feeling your book is horrible and deformed. By the last page, you’re in love with it again.

In the first read-through and the revisions that come from that, you see problems, but it all looks fixable, and you’re stunned at how basically good the book actually is—or has the potential to be. Your beta reader told you about things that need work, but also said the book was going to be great. So you wade in and start hacking this off here and moving it over there, cutting out these and adding that, beefing up this character and toning down that one. You feel like you’re doing good work.

Then, you start on the final revision. This is not the last editing your book will get, of course. You’ll do line edits and proof it before sending it off to agent and editor where they will find new things that need fixing, and you’ll love them for it. This is just the final big structural revision before it goes out to others because anything else will need another good eye. (Every writer needs at least one good editor, no matter how good a writer and editor she is herself.)

This is where you’re making all the major and difficult changes that you left for later because they were major and difficult. This is where you’re honing theme and correcting pacing and making sure you use all the senses throughout and that you keep the reader engaged all the time. 

This is where you hack your way into the jungle of book with a mental picture of how you’ll carve out a gorgeous estate with a palatial residence, and then you get lost, and your bearers run off with the last of your food and water. You have to keep moving because if you don’t, you will sit down and cry as you starve to death.

This is where I am right now. I have come through this before. I know I will again. I continue repeating this mantra to myself as I keep cutting a path for myself. It’s not that I hate the book, as in the sucky middle. This time it’s that I’m afraid I’ll… Let. The. Book. Down.

But I’ve promised to have this done and send the book off to my incredible agent, and I have to make it something good enough to send her. I think I’ll have my husband take me out for dinner, and I’ll buy some luscious imported chocolate. And tomorrow, I’ll head back into the jungle of final revision.


Pauline Alldred said...

All your comments about your experiences with writing and revision make sense but sometimes chaos helps. Who cares about a little dust but mud piles on the floor are hard to ignore. Good luck.

Ellis Vidler said...

Excellent description of the middle, Linda. It made laugh, although I'm nearer to tears when I'm there. I look forward to seeing the outcome of your revisions. That's where it all happens. Good luck!

Gloria Alden said...

I love your imagery of a jungle when writing. It's so perfect for that feeling of being lost in the middle and not quite knowing where to go now. And revision! Yikes! Especially when one needs to cut things out, and it feels like tossing something much loved out into the snow. Well, to go along with your imagery, tossing them into the Amazon for the crocodiles or pirhanas to devour.

E. B. Davis said...

Aren't having high standards a pain?

I haven't started that process with this WIP yet. The pile of revisions from my critique group is growing higher on my desk. At first, I kept up with them, but then since I was still writing my first draft, the pile got away from me. It will be like going through the jungle. Love the images, Linda, and be good to yourself during the struggle.

Warren Bull said...

Sharpen your machete and listen closely to the messages sent by drums. You will survive this journey. As you have survived past expeditions.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Yes, Pauline, tracking mud and vines in on the floor taxes the patience, but it can't be helped sometimes.

Thanks, Ellis. I'm glad it made you laugh. That's the only way I get through these things is laughing at myself in the midst of them. (The chocolate helps, too.)

Linda Rodriguez said...

Gloria, yes! And that feeling of having lost your way, of not having the big-picture overview any longer--that's what's so frustrating and frightening.

Warren, I love the image of listening for the message of the drums. That's really what it's like. When you're completely lost, you must sit quiet so you can hear those distant drumbeat messages.

Linda Rodriguez said...

E.B., you're doing the right thing. Finish that first draft before you start in on the revisions. That's the only way to go.

And I am being good to myself. Didn't you notice the mention of high-quality, imported chocolates? ;-)