Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Carina Press Launch... THE BLOODGATE GUARDIAN by Joely Sue Burkhart

Today I'm swapping blogs with Joely Sue Burkhart who has some great advice for writers. I love her cover too :)

Revision Xibalba

My Carina Press release, THE BLOODGATE GUARDIAN, was my first ever (2007) NaNoWriMo novel. If you don't know, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month where you write 50K in November. I was so happy when I not only “won” NaNoWriMo by finishing 50K by Nov. 30 but also completed the novel at 63K in Dec. 2007...until I realized the hardest part still waited.

Revision Hell. Or because this novel was based on Maya mythology, Revision Xibalba, the Maya hell.

As far as first drafts go, the original NaNoWriMo version wasn't bad at all. I'd done pretty significant plotting in advance, so the novel was well structured. But at the time, I thought it was too short. I wanted it to be single-title length, and so over the next two years (!!), I brainstormed some additional subplots and details to bring the story up to 90K.

For me, adding that many words was a significant trial, spanning two years and several very difficult revision passes. I'd already told the complete story once; I just couldn't get my brain around telling it again. I ended up creating three spreadsheets to help me figure out the timeline with expanded plots. I had a huge cast of characters. Somewhere in those revisions, I totally changed the end of the book, and not in a good way.

I'll tell you a little secret. The first time I submitted BGG to Carina Press, I ended up with a revise and resubmit request. After carefully reading through the detailed comments, I realized I had revised the heart out of my story and made it so convoluted that I'd missed my original story promise I'd set out to write. Over the next two weeks, I cut almost 30K out of the book, rewrote the ending, and axed about a dozen characters. In short, I ended up very, very close to that original NaNoWriMo story structure. I'd suffered and swam through Revision Xibalba (a watery underworld, not fire and brimstone like the Christian hell) for absolutely no reason!

Actually, that's not true. I learned the value of a tight and to the point high-action story. I beefed up the emotional journey significantly and ramped up the tension by cutting out all the extra characters. Even better: those subplots are hopefully going to turn into a second Bloodgate book.

So writers, sure, we'd all love immediate acceptances, but don't discount a revise and resubmit letter. When a busy editor bothers to write out a detailed letter of things to consider instead of simply sending the form rejection, pay attention. I know I ended up with a much better book as a result!

Review or rate THE BLOODGATE GUARDIAN (or any of Joely's books) by July 31st to be entered to win at least two $50 gift certificates! Details here

Read the first chapter of The Bloodgate Guardian
Joely Sue Burkhart
Twitter: http://twitter.com/joelysue
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/joely.s.burkhart
Scribd (free reads): http://www.scribd.com/joelysue

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for having me today, Toni!