Cross-posted from my blog at Cera duBois.
In December, I received the fifth editor rejection on my first contemporary Western, The Long Road Home. Also at least 15 agents rejected it before it caught the interest of an agent. She like the story but felt it was too long, and before she’d offer representation, she requested a revise and resubmit. Which I did, and she signed me. The book eventually was rejected by Harlequin American, which honestly doesn’t surprise me. I don’t read enough of them to know how to write them.
But this isn’t about rejection. I’m talking about rewriting. With that fifth rejection, I was offered a revise and resubmit (an R & R). I get a second chance, if I’m willing to rewrite. Of all rejections, these are the best, because it shows you that the editor/agent liked something enough to give you another chance. With this particular editor, this will be my third chance. She gave me my very first rejection on this book and gave me an R &R that time, too, but instead of sending it back to her, I queried agents. And the rest, as they say, is history.
So, if you’re keeping count, I’ve already rewritten this book twice. The third time came when I tried to incorporate some of what the Harlequin editor said was wrong with the book. These don’t count the first rewrite when I shortened the first draft from 120,000 words to 90,000, or the several intense editing and deep revisions I’ve done to clean up the writing as I learned the craft. Yeah, of my five completed original novels, this is the one on which I learned how to write.
I really thought I nailed it this last time, then I got that rejection—ironically from the same publisher (different editor) that offered me a contract for my very first book only 2 months prior. Her problems with the book were very similar to the problems two of the other editors had with the book—faulty GMCs of my hero and heroine…plus they said I never fullyredeem my heroine. This editor disliked her completely because she doubly betrays her dead husband and the hero—which she continued to betray for most of the book by keeping secrets.
Note to the weary—it’s easier to redeem a hero than it is a heroine.
Since then, I’ve debated on whether to rewrite it again or send it elsewhere. In fact, I almost did so last week. Then I reread my rejection letters—and realized why this book has given me so much trouble from the very beginning. And why it was getting some really strong bites, but ended up being rejected. The rejection before this one came from the acquisition team of another big e-publisher and voiced many of the same conflict issues, but they didn’t give me an R & R.
My GMCs and the plot—just don’t work, which was the original reason the first draft was 120,000 words long and it’s undergone at least 6 deep revisions/rewrites. However every time I’ve rewritten it, I’ve never changed the hero’s and heroine’s GMCs or the plot. I’d just rearrange scenes, polish scenes, add scenes or delete them—But I NEVER tackle the real problems—faulty plotting, to include the GMCs and characterizations.
So, I didn’t submit the book to the publisher my dear and trusted friend D’Ann suggested. (Don’t worry; I will submit to her, after I’m finished with the rewrite.) *grin*
I reread what I’ve rewritten thus far and realized how much more I love this story. I’ve always loved it—or I wouldn’t be so bullheaded about rewriting it to get it published. But I never LOVED it. And the reason why I like it so much better now is simple. The characters have true and honest GMCs—every single one of them. I’ve also added in some suspense with the villain. (In the original versions, the heroine’s husband was dead—in this version, he’s her ex-husband and very much alive and well). Amazing how a couple simple (well, not really so simple) plot changes and re-characterizations can add in the organic motivation and conflict that was missing before.
Originally, The Long Road Home was a secret baby story in which the hero (the father) doesn’t find out until the end. I approached the plot this way because I wanted the story to be different from every other secret baby plot out there. But in the end, I couldn’t find the right type of conflict. So, let’s see if I hit it by taking some of the secret out of the overused secret baby. The heroine still betrays the hero, but he also betrays her—and they both are betrayed by their mutual best friend (the ex-hubby).
So, let me know—If you’ve ever completely rewritten a story, how drastically have you changed the plot/characters? Did you like it better when you were done? Or did you hate it?