If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.


Our reason for creating WWK originated as an outlet for our love of reading and writing mystery fiction. We hope you love it, too, and will enjoy our holiday gifts to our readers with original short stories to celebrate the season. Starting on 11/16 stories by Warren Bull, Margaret S. Hamilton, Paula Gail Benson, Linda Rodriguez, KM Rockwood, Gloria Alden, and E. B. Davis will appear every Thursday into the New Year.


Our November Author Interviews: 11/8--Ellen Byron, and 11/15--Sujata Massey. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.


November Saturday Bloggers: 11/4 Margaret S. Hamilton and 11/11 Cheryl Hollon.


Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.


In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," just published, will appear in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fifth Course of Chaos.


James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.

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Monday, July 22, 2013

Moving and Revision



This week while under a tight book deadline, I’ve had to do an author event in another state and then drive on to my son’s apartment where we are helping him move back to Kansas City. This will entail trips back and forth between his apartment in Iowa City and our house in Kansas City. Because the craziness of life goes on, whether we have tight book deadlines or not.

This process of moving my son has reminded me of the process of revision. My son is having to take his life apart and decide what is important and what he loves but must decide to live without. It’s quite painful, as moving usually is. As revision often is. There are only so many trips we and he can make between Iowa City and Kansas City in a limited time frame (bad rental company forcing him out early), so he has to choose what goes on those trips and what goes to the dumpster. (In a college town, no one wants to buy anything at this time of year since they know they can wait a few days and haul anything they want out of the dumpsters for free.)


He was feeling quite overwhelmed by it all when we first arrived. He’s lived here for eight years of graduate school and accumulated a lot. I started by asking him to identify the things he owned that he felt were crucial to keep—mementos of his dead father, the hand-carved wooden toys from his late step-grandfather, the handmade quilts and afghans from his aunt and me, the thousands of dollars in hard-to-find books for his research (he has a Ph.D. in medieval English lit). Once we’ve identified these structural elements, it becomes easier to make the necessary decisions on the rest of his belongings.

Revision works the same way. We identify the critical elements of the book’s story and characters and focus on the basic structural elements of the narrative. Once we have those bones of the book in place, we can make decisions scene by scene about whether or not this event or character or bit of dialogue or description truly belongs to this book.


Fortunately, in revision, what we cut doesn’t have to go to the dumpster. I always open a separate file called TITLE OF BOOK Cuts, and into it I place everything I cut from that book. Most of it will never see the light of day, but once in a while one of these pieces will be resurrected for another book or story. The real benefit of doing this is it takes away some of the reluctance to cut and makes it easier for me to do a good revision of my story.

As my son doesn’t realize yet, but most of us already know, he will probably move several more times in his life. Each time, he will have to go through this process of making difficult decisions and paring down to the essentials of his life. And in the long run, he’ll get much better at making these decisions—and even at deciding ahead of time that he doesn’t want to buy/keep this or that because it isn’t really important enough to justify the space it will take up.

Every time we finish a book, we have to go through the same process. And we hope, that in the long run, we also will get much better at it and maybe even learn to not write this long, windy chunk of description in the first place because we know from experience that it will be the first thing we’ll have to cut. Above all, we learn that we will go through this process many, many times in the future if we continue with our writing ambitions.

What have you learned about the process of revision? I’ve actually come to like it and was talking with another author at that event who agreed with me that revision is when we really make the books sing. How do you feel about revising your books or stories?

21 comments:

E. B. Davis said...

Revision is a painful topic to me right now as I'm in the throes of it. I wrote Act 1 of my new novel. Then a publisher saw my page at this blog and said to submit my paranormal ms. to her when I was ready!

I'm revising with gusto, but I can't say I've come to like it. Beta readers predicted the identity of my perp. So, I'm coming to embrace the part pantser-part plotting method, which I'm still learning.

I too have a file for each novel where cuts go. I suppose it makes it easier. I sent my ms. to my Kindle where mistakes and edits revealed themselves like flies in butter. It was a humbling experience.

Forced change is a problem. Self-initiated change--not so much. When your son embraces his move and goes with the flow, something will shift and he'll be more at ease with the move.

Snow accompanied my son's moves (mountains). I hope the heat, humidity and thunderstorms don't add to the stress, Linda. Take care of yourself, too!

James Montgomery Jackson said...

I LOVE revisions. I look at the first draft as a dreaded stage I need to go through in order to get to the good stuff - revisions.

I know by now that in the first draft I will have included scenes and characters who will end up on the cutting room floor. Doesn't bother me a whit because in the end the story is stronger for the deletions.

In revisions I also get to add (sometimes happens after a move too when you need a new lamp to illuminate a corner of your new abode).

In life I tend to keep things much longer than necessary - I came from good New England waste-not-want-not stock, you know the kind who build a barn extension because all the earlier parts are filled with "treasures" from the prior generation that just might prove useful sometime, somewhere.

Hope life settles down for you in a good way.

~ Jim

Shari Randall said...

I've moved many times, and each move has taught me how little I really need. I have unopened boxes from the last move and I should just chuck them but am held back by the whispers of Yankee forebears - you might need that (fill in the blank) some day. This is how hoarding happens, I fear!
My daughter just moved to the west coast and had to fit everything into her car for the drive....she's at that wonderful age where one can really travel light. (and leave things in mom's basement)
Love to revise! I think I'm more an editor than a writer - I look forward to the "easy" part when I revise/edit what I've wrestled onto the page.

KM said...

Revisions (and later, line editing) are essential steps in my work. Like Jim, I actually enjoy revising when the work is going well. To tell the truth, I have to add details & fill in the gaps as much as delete when I'm revising.

Right now, I'm working on the both the line edits of the 4th in my series and the rough draft of the 5th. It's an awkward combination--the release date of the 4th was moved back, & I'm finding I have difficulty working on both at once.

I'm married to an academic, & we have made several career moves. You're probably aware that one of the best ways to move all those books is to send them media rate at the post office, but I'll mention it just n case. It's much cheaper than any other way and they do most of the heavy lifting.

Linda Rodriguez said...

EB, but how exciting is it that an editor has asked to see your novel! One you hadn't even submitted.

One suggestion I'd make is to dig deeper into all the other characters who were supposed to be suspects but not killers. That will make them more believable suspects, and you might even find a different, surprise killer that way. It's happened to me.

Snow and moves--ugh! Heat, humidity, and thunderstorms are a pain, but nothing like trying to move in snow and ice.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Jim, I've also come to love revision, though I love that first draft creation stage greatly, as well.

Yes. *sigh* I also tend to channel my Depression-surviving grandparents and save too many things too long. Then, there's my husband, a Cancer, who has trouble letting go of junk mail!

E. B. Davis said...

Great suggestion, Linda. Thanks. I decided on a new killer, but I have to beef up the motivations of the other suspect.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Shari, I know what you mean about your daughter leaving all her stuff at your house. My oldest two are long grown and have been in stable relationships for years and own their own houses. (The oldest, my daughter, has been married three times before this.) But all the stuff they left in my basement, attics, and garage when they first left is still there. I've told them to come get it, and they say they don't want/need it anymore. But the clearing-out and pitching is left to me. *sigh*

Linda Rodriguez said...

KM, like you, I add and expand as much as I delete when I revise. This is my time to make sure every scene has sensory details involving all five senses, and it's the stage at which much of my background detail gets added. My first draft tends to be getting the character arcs and the narrative action of the story down. I add the goodies in revision.

Right now, with this tight deadline, I'm having to revise what I wrote the day before as a prelude to the day's writing, in an effort to get a second draft in. I've reserved the last several weeks for further revision--if I can make my word count goals all the way through. On which I'm slightly behind at present.

Linda Rodriguez said...

I'll probably not be back to respond to comments until later this afternoon since we're back in KC, unloading, then picking up older son's truck to drive back up today, load up, and return to KC tomorrow.

Until later today in Iowa City!

Linda Rodriguez said...

EB, beefing up the other characters alone can do the trick. It makes them more credible as suspects--and sometimes you discover an ace and unsuspected great new killer in their backstories.

Good luck!

Sarah Henning said...

Linda, you're so right in that moving is a metaphor for revision! I've moved cross-country several times (from Kansas to Pennsylvania, from Pennsylvania to Florida, and then from Florida back to Kansas), and I always learned a bit about myself and what I can live with and without during each move.

I'm about 10,000 words from finishing this WIP and then it'll be heavy revision for me. I tend to love revision because I was a copy editor for 10 years and my brain loves getting everything squared away and perfect. At the same time, it kills me to cut or add large chunks because I worry about the bigger picture. I never breathe well again until I've read through the whole thing to see whether I did enough or too much or just the right amount.

Warren Bull said...

Good analogy. Moving frees you up from things that own you.

Gloria Alden said...

Nice blog, Linda, that resonates with me - both the revision and moving. I've moved more than once, but not far. However, my when my youngest daughter sold her house, almost everything ended up in my garage. When she settled in California, much but not all by any means, was shipped to CA. I've flown out there several times to help her move, and that's where I'm heading shortly. Fortunately, she just found out she can move into her new apartment a few days before I get there.

And then there was moving out of a classroom where I'd taught for 20 years. Talk about stuff! Half my garage is filled with stuff too good to throw out; books, etc. Instead of grandparents from the depression era, my parents were. And in spite of my kids teasing me about it, when my grandchildren needed something for school, they sent them to grandma's because I would probably have it. I did sell all my bones, stuffed fish and paper wasp nest at a garage sale and lots of dinosaur stuff.

I enjoy revising. In fact, every time I go back over what I've written I always find new things to change. Of course, I like working on the first draft, too, once I sit down and actually tackle it.

Kara Cerise said...

In two weeks my niece is moving from Southern California to Philadelphia (a few hours from where I live in the D.C. area) to go to medical school. She sold or donated almost everything she owns except her clothes. I’ve been sorting through my house and gathering items that might be useful to her. It’s amazing how much can accumulate and surprisingly easy and fun to weed through it. I wish I found editing as enjoyable a task, but I prefer creating the stories and characters to the difficult (for me) task of revising.

Carla Damron said...

I see revision as a second job, requiring different job skills. I used to joke about putting on a different hat on, and considered buying one just to make the point to myself!

Linda Rodriguez said...

Sarah, it's precisely that big structural stuff that I like about revision.

Delayed by terrible thunder and lightning and torrential rains about 45 minutes from Iowa City, so we had to leave the highway and sit it out for a long time. That's why I'm so late tonight with comments.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Warren, I love that way of looking at moving. It frees you up from things that own you. Thanks!

Linda Rodriguez said...

Oh, Gloria, cleaning out that classroom must have been a doozy! You were such a creative teacher, so you had lots of creative materials.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Kara, I sure wish I found it easy and fun to wade through and get rid of things. Not my idea of fun, at all.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Carla, you're absolutely right. They're two very different jobs. A different hat for each one would be fun. And perhaps useful in reminding us which job we're doing.