The theme on the blog this week is "Dinner with our characters: What's on the menu in our books?" I'm going to twist our theme just a tad (or possibly a lot) and not talk about my book so much as ALL BOOKS. And food won't be quite so literal...
When we draft, we binge-eat. Not US, of course (okay, maybe sometimes us).... our BOOK binge eats. I mean, looking out at all the possibilities for this new and exciting manuscript is a bit like going to a buffet with all the food in the world on it! Everything looks SO GOOD, and you just know if you stick all that good stuff in your book, it will make it SO GOOD.
Once you get to the end, your book is probably going to be a little on the chunky side. Or possibly somewhere closer to flat-out obese. All those great things, when combined, leave you with a lot of dead weight that really isn't helping your story move.
Now think about an agent or an editor, holding up a ticket to publishdom, calling out, "I'm ready to make an offer! Come and get it!"
And your book, with its thunder thighs, tubby legs, overworked lungs, jiggly belly, and flabby arms lumbers on up to the agent/editor. Do you think they're bound to make it there first? Let's be honest, people. Your book might have a heart attack on its way.
AND THAT'S WHERE REVISING COMES IN.
Revising is like diet and exercise for your book. As you're going through, trimming all those scenes that may have been a blast to write but didn't end up helping your storyline, your manuscript loses weight. When you get rid of that sub-plot that ended up going nowhere constructive, your manuscript gets healthier. As you go through and make each sentence more concise, your manuscript gets leaner.
When you've trimmed all of the fat, it's easier to see where your book needs more muscle. Where pushing yourself over and over will make it stronger. Where only feeding it exactly what it needs will keep it healthier.
And even if it's incredibly painful to get it into that great of shape, you'll be able to look at and it'll be a beautiful site to behold.
Then, when that agent/editor stands up with the elusive golden ticket, your manuscript will not only be able to run the whole way, but it will be in good enough shape to leap over every single obstacle that might get in its way, and still be able to run the marathon that is the publishing business once it gets there.
Happy fat-trimming, everyone!
Will Write for Cookies, or on Twitter at @PeggyEddleman. THROUGH THE BOMB'S BREATH is now on Goodreads.