Word on the street is that the publishing industry moves at glacial speeds. This has not been my experience. Not only did my book deal happen very quickly (less than two weeks from start to finish), my edit letter was sitting in my inbox the day after the deal was made. And my editor is super responsive. She gets back to me really fast when I have a question or need feedback on something. I even got a response from her on a Saturday, which I totally did not expect, because that’s not working hours!
So my edit letter is actually a letter plus a manuscript with inline comments. The comments are some relatively minor changes the editor wants, and the letter has the bigger changes that are needed, the ones that are more structural in nature. I am to make all the changes using “track changes” in Word.
Though I am feeling the pressure of my new deadline, I did not make any changes to the manuscript for the first week (except to rewrite one scene). The reason is that I am a look-before-you-leap kind of writer. I believe that revisions will actually go faster, and turn out better, if I put in sufficient “think time” before I start writing. It’s my process, and it’s always worked for me. I write most scenes in my head before I commit them to paper.
Also, I feel that when I am solving a problem (whether it’s a story problem or a software design problem–all these techniques applied equally to my previous job as a software developer), it is a mistake to leap at the first solution that comes to mind. Sometimes the most obvious solution is not the best one. In fiction, the most obvious solution is often the most cliched, so I am especially wary of it. If I give a problem a lot of think time, I can allow myself to think of many possible solutions to the problem and then pick the best one.
So I did a lot of thinking, and it was structured thinking. I started researching an issue the editor brought up (more on this in a later blog post). I reread the entire novel and then outlined it, scene by scene. Using that outline, I mapped out where I thought the new scenes ought to go.
When I felt I had a reasonable plan in mind, I emailed my editor, outlining the plan and telling her what scenes I planned to add or delete and where I expected them to go. Happily, she approved it (same day response–I tell you, she’s fast!) and gave me some feedback on a few things, so now I’m good to go. I’m still thinking a few things through, so I’ve begun doing the small edits she requested, since they’re independent of the larger changes, and then I’ll tackle the larger ones.