More Revisions on the Way?

I’ve put together a little schedule for finishing the first draft of In the Red, my second novel, this year. Thing is, I’m still thinking about Baby Grand. All the time. (Will I always, I wonder.) My AquaNotes have been getting a workout. I contacted my agent this week to ask if she thought one more round of revisions was in order — half-hoping, astonishing as that is, that she would say yes. (We will chat next week.) I”m currently reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which has gotten me thinking about a few things I’d like to add to Baby Grand:

  1. A prologue: I thought about having one right from the start, but wasn’t sure if it would work. Right now, Baby Grand does not have a prologue, but I got an idea the other night for something suspenseful and pertinent. I was inspired by the five-page prologue of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo which sucked me in and kept me reading despite the tediousness of the next forty or so pages. I realized the power of those first few pages of a novel.
  2. More geographical, upstate New York detail: I love the Swedish references — as difficult as they are to pronounce and read — of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the landscape, the industry, the politics. They made me start thinking about Baby Grand as a book that could possibly have an international audience. I thought that perhaps I should do upstate New York a little more justice, maybe even take another excursion up there.
  3. More historical detail: All the attention on Andrew Cuomo, the new governor of New York, and the State of the State address last week got me thinking again about the history of the Executive Mansion. Also, my son of late has been reading and rereading his American History textbook and asking all sorts of questions about the presidents, four of whom were governors of New York: Martin Van Buren, Grover Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The presidential trivia were some of my favorite details to write in Baby Grand, and I think I’d like to do some more of that.
  4. More character detail. For my villain, in particular.

So apparently I haven’t closed the book on Baby Grand and I have more to say, and that’s a good thing. Spending 28 days revising the novel in the fall, the first time, made the book meatier, the character portraits stronger and more interesting. My hope is that another round of revisions will make it even better.

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7 thoughts on “More Revisions on the Way?

  1. At first I thought more geographical detail about upstate NY would be a big yawn (having grown up there, I can honestly say it’s pretty darn dull) but then I remembered Philip Roth’s American Pastoral which I read a few years back and he brought Central Jersey alive. I do think that a lot of readers would eat up more historical detail, esp with regard to presidents…

  2. I’d wait and see what your agent says, in case she has edits and/or suggestions that will require a different approach altogether. There are pros and cons to prologues; I’ve liked some I’ve read, but rarely use them in my own writing.

    I received Girl With the Dragon Tattoo for Christmas and am looking forward to reading it. I’ve been warned the first 100 pages are slow but it’s worth persevering.

  3. You know how it says all over the internet that it is verboten to write prologues, that it’s a rookie mistake first time novelists frequently make, that no one reads them, that they rarely belong in anything other than sci fi, blah blah blah? Well, after I read all this advice I was completely terrorized to submit my manuscript with a prologue. And yet there it was, this luscious scene that completely sets the tone for the novel, foreshadows the darkness that lies ahead for our heroine. The scene also happens to center around a factual and incredibly evocative detail I adore, that performers in the traveling circus used to use pork fat to remove their makeup. So I cut it out, I put it back in, I cut it out, I put it back in. Finally, I went with my own instinct and submitted it with the prologue sure I would be called out and criticized for having it there. No one said anythng negative about it at all. And, it turns out, my agent loves it too. Just goes to show ya, ultimately you have to listen to your own instincts sometimes. If you really believe whole heartedly that you need to make more revisions, more power to you. Good luck with it.

  4. For the 35 years I was a reader and not a writer, I skipped prologues, introductions, and forwards. I’m not saying that was a smart or mature thing to do, just being honest. I was easily bored, read to escape boredom, and I wanted a *story*.

  5. I gave my first draft to 10 readers for opinions and was quite shocked when a couple of them came back saying they don’t read prologues. Isn’t that like arriving 10 minutes late to a movie? I remedied this by writing a prologue that was self-contained—it gives a teaser of what’s coming but nobody will miss important details if they skip past it. In my opinion, it’s best to accommodate for the fact that some skip it (in the case of my readers: 20%) but not let that be a reason to deprive the other 80% of an exciting introduction.

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