Road to Publication: Digging Deeper into Character and Plot

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I’ve been working steadily on my publisher Beau Coup Publishing’s request to add 10,000 words to my middle grade story The Castle Blues Quake.

The manuscript was originally at 40,000 words, so it’s a big percentage to increase it to at least 50,000 words. I’ve made a lot of headway, though, and am now down to adding a minimum of 3,500 words.

I’ve felt some pressure to get this done, pressure that I’ve put on myself because my editor isn’t pushing me at all, but giving me the time and space I need to complete the revision. However, I’ve set a deadline of Monday May 26. Luckily, I have no plans for the Memorial Day holiday, so I can spend the weekend with BIC writing. (For those who don’t know, “BIC” was coined by author Jane Yolen and stands for “Butt In Chair,” meaning that’s what it takes to get your writing done!

The Castle Blues Quake is a manuscript I worked on in an online class I took: “Empowering Characters’ Emotions” taught by Margie Lawson. I’ve mentioned her and the class previously in this blog, and it was one of the best classes on writing I’ve ever taken.

Now, I’ve been looking back at what I learned, and it’s been helping me with this revision. The lessons and exercises from the class taught me to dig deeper into my characters. This not only improved my characters, but also, many times, improved the plot.

An exercise that we did throughout the course was to take a line, a paragraph, or a complete scene and work on “amplifying” it. To take a character’s reaction or a description, for instance, and amp it up, bring to the next level.

I’m using this technique with my revision. The thing is, I’m not just adding words. I’m enhancing the story, making the characters more real with deeper emotions, which will, hopefully, create stronger connections to the reader. I’ve also come up with new beginning chapters and a few additions to the plot that will add to the suspense, and I’ll write another chapter that will reinforce the friendship between the two main characters.

I have to say, as nervous as I was about adding this big chunk of words, I’m now really happy the publisher requested it. I’m excited about the changes so far. Now it’s BIC and finishing it up by Monday.

How do you go about tackling major revisions?

About lindacovella

I am an author of fiction and nonfiction for kids and teens.
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15 Responses to Road to Publication: Digging Deeper into Character and Plot

  1. honeybadgersbookclub says:

    Working through beginning to end, BUT with each revision, going to the end (dear me I hope this makes sense) and asking myself, ‘now that I’ve made this revision, does the end still make sense?’ So it’s like I’m cross-referencing constantly.

    • lindacovella says:

      Yes, totally. I’ve been doing similar with this revision, checking to see if I’m repeating, or writing description, dialogue, plot that doesn’t make sense until I add something else earlier in the story! You’re blog looks awesome. Following you now. 🙂

      • honeybadgersbookclub says:

        That makes me feel awesome! Thank you. It’s the rewriting that gets you…I’ve done NaNo the past 4 years and have yet to reach a truce with editing/revisions.

        • lindacovella says:

          I’ve only done nano once, and it’s a rough draft of a sequel to this story I’m revising now. I actually like the revising more than doing that first draft. Good luck with yours!

  2. Ten thousand more words? Good luck. I’m sure you’ll get there. I agree, revising means looking back to see if what’s new still makes sense with what happened earlier, and with the ending. Lots of work but always worth it. 🙂

    • lindacovella says:

      Thanks, Debi. I’m down to 2500 more! And I’m still going over the ms plus I need to write the additional chapter. And now I’m very happy they asked for this, because I think it’s all really improving the story. Excited. 🙂

  3. I remember Margie’s class on emotion — wonderful and immensely helpful. You can do this, Linda. I have no doubt. And your way is exactly the right way. How do I tackle edits? Well, I’ve never had an editor ask something with a view toward publication, but I’d do it just like you if that were the case: BIC and do the work. Otherwise, I go on my own schedule. Good luck with this. Let us know how it goes.

  4. I am so glad that is going for well for you. When you first posted about the request I cringed. That is a big addition. But now it makes the story even better? Woohoo.

  5. piarve says:

    It’s nice to read through your journey into publishing. It is very encouraging. Thank you for the character tips, to me that is what makes every novel different, there are only so many plots to choose from so a character needs to be one of a kind.

    • lindacovella says:

      Thank you, Piarve! It’s so true about character. Plot is important, but as you said, the character(s) make the story memorable. I followed your blog. I love history, too, and I’ve always loved reading historical fiction. So my book was fun to research and write. So cool you are writing about different periods of history. Best of luck to you!!

      • piarve says:

        Thank you for following me.

        I find myself researching History whenever I create a short story, so I’m glad it can be of use to others.

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