I'm back after a long absence. Do you ever get to the point where you wonder where you're going with your blog? Where you don't seem to have anything to say that you think others would be interest in, so you think, Why bother? Hmm...maybe that's a good topic for another post.
Well, that happened to me, but that wasn't the main reason I haven't been posting. I've been editing and revising my historical novel, The Freedom Thief. If you've been with me for a while, you're probably thinking...She's still working on that story?!
Yes, I am, but under new circumstances. The story is now in the hands of a publisher, and I'm 'writing to specification.' Oh, don't get all excited! I don't have a contract in my hot little hands, so there is no guarantee of publication at the moment.
This is what has happened: the publisher emailed me with a rejection, but asking for a resubmission, WITH certain revisions if I was willing to make them. She told me what the editors who had read the manuscript said, what her comments were, and said if I was willing to work on these comments and make the revisions they thought were necessary, I could resubmit it and she and the editors would be happy to review the manuscript again. Of course, I said I would be willing to work on the revisions.
Writing to specification means taking the four issues they talked about, and editing and revising each one. It's not as easy as it might sound. At first, I thought I would go page by page and work on each of these issues. Oh boy, did that get confusing! So I decided to work throughout the entire story on just one issue at a time. When I finished with that issue, I saved the manuscript as "Draft One." Then I went back to the first page, and started on the next issue, and when I finished, saved it as Draft Two, and so on. I'm now on the fourth and final issue, and that will be saved as Draft Four.
Their first comment concerned my main character's father and two older brothers, whom they felt were 'one-dimensional.' Yes, they were. That was deliberate on my part, as I wrote them that way to give credence to why Ben, my MC, hated slavery. But apparently, they are too much "that way," so I've had to go back and create better personalities and a more rounded characterization for them. This has been difficult, particularly since they only appear in the first 3 or 4 chapters, then nowhere else throughout the rest of the story. Actually, this is the issue that concerns me the most, and the one I will be revisiting for (hopefully) one final time, when I'm finished with the draft I'm working on now. I want to be sure that these 3 characters are as "well-rounded" as I think they can be, for the short time they are in the story.
The second issue concerned Ben's dialogue, which the editors thought was too adult for a 13 year old boy. In pre-Civil War era, 1859 to be exact, boys were considered to be men by the age of 14, and Ben is almost 14 ( turns that age in the story.) As with all children of that era, he has grown up much faster than today's 13-14 year olds do, so it is natural for him to speak in a more adult fashion. But the editors wanted me to tone his dialogue down a bit. It took awhile to do that, and still keep him in character for the time frame.
The third issue concerned a "passive voice" in certain places throughout the manuscript. Now I know the difference between 'passive voice' and 'active voice.' So what did they mean? Oh wow! How easy it is to slide over into passive voice when you have no intention of doing so! I was amazed when I saw how many places I had done just that. Little things like "There was " or "It seemed like" or "The wind was howling" were sprinkled here and there...I know better. That took some time, also.
The fourth issue concerned "contemporary sensibilities." That threw me. I had no idea what they meant until I sat down and pondered it for a while. When I finally realized what it was, I went to work. This is the fourth draft I'm working on now, and perhaps the most difficult and time-consuming of all. But I'm not going any further with this at the moment. I think perhaps "contemporary sensibilities" might make a whole 'nother post!
Now you know why I haven't been around. "Writing to specification" is not all that easy, and at best, is time consuming. But I'll be back soon, so please stay with me.
Until next time,
That's a wrap.