Plastic Surgery, Novel Style

Industrious bee...if only revision were as bloodless

I completed the most gruesomely delicious month of manuscript revision. I’d received feedback from an interested agent — the most simple and straightforward, beginner-ish feedback that I’d heard in a loooong time. Little did I know that I needed to hear it.

The agent said, I felt the manuscript slowed in the two chapters before the murder and got muddled. I also felt like I lost the voice a little bit, which was so strong in the earlier parts…I think if a scene or dialogue doesn’t serve to move the story forward, you should cut.

I read the two specified chapters while attempting to inhabit her point of view. Which is to say, with pure objectivity. Lo and behold, something clicked. A big ol’ whopping, humiliating, painful, Homer-head-slap DOHing, light flashing, baseball-bat wielding CLICK.

I ended up cutting half the text and combining the chapters, the whole time pondering the weirdness of the brain, or maybe my brain. I can’t tell you how many times I’d ransacked the manuscript. But it took a near stranger with an interest in sales potential over all else to inspire a fundamental shift.

With the fundamental shift in place, I cut, sliced and hacked the entire beloved but aggravating thing. In the process of carving away the fat, a couple of muscular plot ideas appeared, lean and mean and there all along. It was like magic, sharp-edged magic, but magic all the same.

Poor thing needs to heal for a week before I pull out my bloody revision implements once again. Maybe all it will need is a punch here and there. That would be good. Bruises heal faster than cuts…

Then we’ll see what wounds the agent has in store for it. Once the plastic surgery starts, does it ever end?

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