Anatomy of a Final Revision

The last of the manuscript arrived at 6:06 PM, a day and half later than expected.This bothered my wonderful publisher friends more than it did me because they have deadlines to meet, marketing to do, etc. Me, all I have to do is accept some spot-on line edits and do a little seeding here and there.Plus, here’s a dark secret I’ve never shared: As I did the third revision, I kept thinking, “I’m never sending the manuscript back! Bwahaha! Well, maybe for copyediting, but not after that.”

I enjoyed working on the manuscript too much, and if I gave it up, I’d be expected to start a new book. And we all known that I am a fraud who somehow convinced a group of very smart, able people that I can write a novel.

At 6:20 PM, after letting the manuscript ferment for all of 14 minutes, I opened the envelope then started sorting.Edited pages to the left, unmarked pages to the discard pile. Over 80% of the pages required some sort of edit.I’ll pause here to add that only once in the process of revisions did I stet one of AEV’s suggestions. It was a one-liner that was mildly humorous by itself, but I had referencedit at least twice more in the novel and used it to set up a reveal later (a free Tupperware bowl to the first astute reader who can guess the stet’ed line).

Generally, I used he same process before—cull, reword, and then rewrite. The last three chapters required some cutting, which is easier than writing new pieces. I was satisfied that the last chapter had the new touches AEV asked for (better opening line, more humor, less sap), I let Microsoft Sam read key sequences and the final chapters to me.I found at least six typos in the last chapter, even after proofing it three times. Best of all, I didn’t fall asleep once, and I made my deadline to the minute.

I said in the last post that this was the most difficult revision. So what made it so hard? Not the actual line edits, because although they were numerous, they were minor. Not the cutting because it made the story tighter and saved me time having to recast a few clunky passages. No, it was the finality of it. I knew that when the manuscript went to copyediting, it would no longer be the story that AEV and I had made. It would become a book that was shared with others, and despite the fact that I’ll have to respond to copyedits, my writing would be done: the story that revision 3 created would be the novel Soul Enchilada.

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