Because the marketplace is so difficult, many agents work with their clients on their manuscripts prior to submitting them to publishing houses. A hands-on agent is a good one. I think I’ve got a great one, and, frankly, I’m taken aback at how much time Chelsea has devoted to THE REAL STORY– first reading the original manuscript, and then my revision (taking it from chronological order to thematic order) in its entirety again, after which she and the agency head had “a long chat” about how to make the story “even more phenomenal.”
With editing, each new revision sheds light on a new set of issues, and the process begins again. Relationships shift. Different scenes come under sharper scrutiny. Tensions change, and like a guitar, some strings need to be tightened. The best part, however, is that my agent feels the new order is working. This is a major accomplishment for me. The bad news is… well, I guess there isn’t any. Not as far as I can see. That’s not to say that there aren’t suggestions for revisions!
Chelsea has me rewriting three major scenes, no small task, but they make sense because I’d half-considered these same changes at one point or another, but in my uncertainty, I left things as is. That’s one of the reasons I’m so excited about their suggestions—they definitely mesh with my way of thinking. The manuscript is moving in the right direction, and even though some good lines and dialogue will be lost, what I gain will hopefully be worth it.
Chelsea made a great suggestion that I chart a timeline of each scene and when they take place (what year or phase in the narrator’s life) to make sure those scenes with the greatest impact and propelling force, in terms of the story arc, are given the most attention. I’ve already started on this, and it’s helped me immensely. If you’re working on a novel, I strongly recommend this.
Her detailed email ended with lots of praise and hopes that I don’t feel overwhelmed by revisions. I don’t. Clearly, there’s work to do, but in truth, I can’t wait to get started. Half of that comes from the certainly in knowing what it is I need to do. The other half comes from trusting I can do it. This is one of the biggest changes I’ve seen in my attitude since graduating from the MFA program– confidence.
To that end, I went out this evening and treated myself to a new, ergonomic mesh chair for my desk. It was pricey, but worth it.