Didn’t We Just Leave This Party?

Saturday it was sixty degrees. Monday there’s snow on the ground. Sounds like an April Fools’ joke where some wiseacre hired a snow machine to trick his neighbor, but no. Just winter being a dick. “You thought I was gone? I’ll show you!” Probably not the last we’ll see of the old boy before May.

I have editorial revisions to do. Been a while since that’s happened. The regular sort of working revisions? Sure, plenty. These are at the direction of someone else. I don’t mind revisions, mostly. Usually it just gives me one more chance to make the story better before any other reader sees it. That’s if you are working with a good editor. This is a good editor. I’ve worked with some that, well, not so much. I take comfort, however, in knowing a bad editor generally isn’t around long, so there’s a limit to how much damage they can do. That doesn’t help much when you’re struggling to make sense of suggestions straight from the Twilight Zone.

As I said. I don’t mind revisions. For proof, I only meant to glance at what I was doing on the story revisions and ended up working through the entire manuscript. Which is why this blog post is going up in the late afternoon rather than early afternoon. Not that I’m done with the manuscript, of course. I’ll look it over again and see what I could do better.

Pretty much my only rule for revision is: make it better or make it stop. It’s a word we sometimes forget. You can always say no. It’s your story. Worse case, you look for a market that appreciates it for what it is, not for what someone else thinks it should be. But usually a good editor won’t do that. They’ll see what you were trying to do, and help you do it better. That’s gold. And rarer.

Don’t Fear the Kitten

This came up in another writer’s blog some time ago, was discussed roundly there, and keeps coming up so I’m going to talk about it here, too. The question was about whether to add a certain element — in this case a kitten, but it could as easily been something else equally dangerous: a certain character, explicit sex, non-standard gender roles — knowing even as you do so that it will make the story harder to sell. To emphasize the point, an editor pointed out how hard it indeed would be to sell any such story to him. Not impossible, but very very hard. My position is: if the kitten is required then put the kitten in and damn the consequences.

I can be dogmatic at times (Gee, ya think?), but I know there are times when compromise is required. We don’t live anywhere near Perfect, as the drug store ads used to remind us constantly. And yet…there’s a limit. There has to be. Trends fade. Today’s hot topic is tomorrow’s fishwrap. Prejudices morph. “Marketability” is a will-o-wisp if ever there was one, and trying to second-guess and anticipate it leads to bog-downs and hackdom. Continue reading

Patience, Grasshopper

Patience. Probably one of the most ignored and overlooked items in a writer’s toolbox. Not unrelated to the subject of stubbornness (see persistence), but a different commodity. New writers especially don’t have much use for it. On another board a new writer asked, “If I send in a story now, does it appear in the next issue? How soon do I get paid?” The sound you doubtless heard was a thousand shiny pins forming a queue to pop that lovely balloon. After the realities were explained, you could practically see the fallen crest. “Oh. I didn’t know it was so complicated.” Continue reading