Revision Nightmare

I’ve been slack as with this blog the past couple of weeks. Mainly because I’ve been wrestling with these revisions. Hard. Hard. Hard. You know I say that romance writing ‘aint for sissies?


Tears have been shed. Yes, I admit it. Tantrums have been thrown. I have said many times ‘I’m giving up. I can’t do this. I can’t get it right. I’ll never get it right.’ Much swearing occured in our house as I tried to find my way into these wretched characters. I wrote a whole partial! Which will never see the light of day because it was rubbish. And why? Because it comes down to the most basic problem which was the fact that I had not nailed down my conflict. I thought I had but I didn’t go deep enough and therefore I did not know how my charcters would react and so they acted inconsistently.

But. I think I’ve got the conflict sorted now. This is a huge caveat of course because I’ve thought I’ve had it many times before and haven’t. I still don’t know if the first chapter is right or not – I’ve thought that about all of my writing before subbing and been wrong. It feels right but then so has everything else. Ultimately, I have no idea what the editor will say.

Anyway, I’ve rewritten the first chapter twice, both entirely different. This is easier for me because it breaks away from the scene and characters that didn’t work and makes sure I don’t fall into old patterns. I’m hoping that finally I’ve got it. At least they’re acting in a way that is true to their conflict. In the end, though, all I can do is sub it and see.

Anyone else tearing their hair out over their stupid characters?

22 thoughts on “Revision Nightmare”

  1. Hi Jackie,

    I can really hear your frustation. Your journey to publication really reminds me of my quest to have a baby through IVF. The pain, the frustration, the disappointment – it really is an emotional rollercoaster. And I’ve also told myself, ‘I can’t do this anymore.’ But think about this: how would you feel if you gave up trying to get published, then kick yourself everyday asking yourself ‘What if…?’ I remind myself of this every time I get teary and it gets too difficult to keep going.

    So hang in there…if you don’t give it your best shot, you never know what might happen!

  2. I think the thing to keep in mind, Jackie is that every day that you work on your craft, you get better. You had to wait to hear back, and during that time, you were learning, applying that knowledge and honing your craft. You can do it. These are revisions, your editor wants to see you succeed, and thinks you can, because otherwise they wouldn’t bother and you’d get a ‘how about working on something new?’ response. Go Jackie! 4 bars of chocolate need to be by your side at all times (and Dr Jax of course)

  3. Hi Jackie, just wanted to say that if anyone can nail the revisions you can. Remember to take care of yourself and eat and all that stuff!

    Love and hugs,


  4. Jax.. I so totally agree with you…

    I got my first revision request last week (especially when I was on a short trip home, WITHOUT internet) and was so terrified to touch my MS. Tossed and turned, unable to find anything good to salvage..

    I also thought I had the conflict nailed and character motivation but that’s exactly the place where the editor has pointed as “unclear”!! Tearing my hair out, and questioning every single word out there..

    I have rewritten the first chapter twice and still slugging on.

    Did I mention I totally understand what you are going through???

    I’ll hover around here, soaking up words of wisdom, cos I so badly need some.

  5. Aw, Angie, that’s such a comparison. If you’re still hanging in there then I can hardly give up can I? Crossing fingers for both of us. πŸ™‚

    Sally – thanks for the support! I keep thinking that poor old editor will probably be wondering what on earth I’m doing?? She keeps telling me all this great stuff and I just can’t get it right. Ah well, as you say, it’s all good for craft learning!

    Lorraine – hey there, m’dear. Funny you should say that – forgot lunch today. πŸ˜‰

    Ju – don’t know how much wisdom I’ve got! I feel happier knowing I’ve got the conflict sorted, it’s just writing it down in a way that feels natural. And yeah, what to keep, what to ditch? Do I save what I can or rewrite completely?? It’s horrible. All you can do is go with your gut. That’s probably not helpful huh? πŸ˜‰

  6. Hugs Jackie. Don’t be too hard on yourself, your pain just demonstrates your commitment/frustration. You’re on the journey. You’re getting stellar input from an ed. But at the same time, you do want to feel the love. So be good to yourself, give yourself time to retrench and feel that love bloom. You will do it. The ed thinks so too. Sometimes a wee breather can help you fathom stuff out. I know that’s helped for me when I’ve hit ‘brick wall’ stage. And it’s even helped when I thought I was finished and I wasn’t! If that makes any sense at all.
    By the way I should point out that my pitch success came right after a pitch bomb. The breather made me realise I’d tried too hard. Relaxation shows I guess.
    P.S. I had an IVF baby too. And those journeys are very very similar. E.g. very important stuff at stake and trying as hard as you can with no guarantees. The answer is the same too. Relax and celebrate your fortitude!
    P.S. Sorry if I’ve not explained this well!

  7. Tears, tantrums and swearing are all good signs I think Jackie – they say you have to bleed onto the page don’t they?
    I hear you about worrying that you make your characters behave inconsistently, I have the exact same fear right now with my heroine. I’m sure she was less ditsy at the beginning of the story that she is now!
    Lots of luck going forward. How close are you to resubbing?

  8. Hugs and hugs again Jackie. You seem to be going through the mill at the moment. So I hope you get that much deserved “call” soon. And no matter what – don#’t give up!!! Caroline x p.s my word verifcation is “bilch” which is a “t” away from what you are thinking at the mo’ I would imagine…lol!

  9. Hi,

    Chin up, and metaphorically put on the boxing gloves and go punch that ms into shape!

    It will come right: believe it!!


  10. Hi Jackie, thought you’d been a little quiet lately. Now, I know why although it would have been better to hear you’d been lounging on some beach somewhere. Yeah, this whole business is not for sissys that’s for sure. Tears and tantrums aren’t a bad thing, although don’t tell my kids that! You’ll get there, Jackie, because you’re determined and dedicated and disciplined and you want it. Push through it because you know the result will be better than you’ve done before. Will it be good enough? None of us ever know, do we? We never know what’s going on with the editor at any given time or what other factors might be at work. All we can do is submit the best we can at that point. It really is hard work. I’m not sure anyone who hasn’t attempted it really knows that. Don’t forget to look after yourself!!

  11. Hugs, Jackie.

    I think you’re entitled to tears and tantrums. It means you’re working hard to get it right? What you can always hope for is the satisfaction that you have done your best. Which is really elusive when we’re struggling with the characters, isn’t it?

    Hugs again.

  12. Judy – I am hard on myself. The ed is great but sometimes you think you’ve managed to take on board what they say only to find out you’ve failed miserably. But I think definitely relaxing is the key. Really tried too hard the first time, lost the ball the second, with any luck third time is the charm. Congrats on your IVF – sounds like a hard journey.

    Joanne – I think I’ve bled so much it’s amazing I’ve got any blood left! Think I’ve got a handle on the consistency now but hey, only written 1 chapter so who knows? The ed offered to read my first chapter so I sent it to her. With any luck it won’t be too dire. I also ran my updated conflict by her and she really liked it so that’s something. I’ve placed fairly large barriers between my characters though so my synopsis is going to have to be really good in communicating how they overcome them – no idea how yet!

    Caroline – Love your word verification. Definitely revisions are a bilch! Thanks for the support. If I ever get this fabled Call, I think I’ll pass out from shock.

    Francine – thanks heaps! Gloves are definitely on. Looking for the big KO.

    Kaily – thanks m’dear! I’ve been meaning to pop by your blog but have been on a blackout. Yep, it’s that in a nutshell – you have no idea whether it’ll be good enough or not. So maybe I should just stop worrying about that part? That’s the stuff you can’t control. I am trying to make the stuff I can control the best it can be. As you say, that’s all we can do eh? As to looking after myself, I forsee a bout of shopping in my future…

    Sri – yep, sure is elusive. I think I’ve done my best. I hope I have. All I can do is keep going now.

  13. Hi Jackie:

    I feel your pain. I am working on a revision of my own. I am in the process of turning my 80,000 word ms into a 100,000 word manuscript.

    My initial thought was that it was going to be tough, however, I had to sit down and ask myself honestly what I would change. The answer was really “nothing”, but what sparked the whole revision in the first place was deciding that my main character was a little too “damsel in distress” and not enough “kick-ass”. All of a sudden it became amazingly easy. I just took what I knew about my character in my head and beefed up the manuscript in certain scenes to reflect it. There was a whole side to my girl that I had only hinted at, once I started to show it, it all came spilling out.

    So find that one thing…that tiny little noise that starts the whole avalanche coming down and wonderful things can happen.

    I am very close to finishing the ms. I have been very sick for the past week and a half with a miserable cold, but still managed to write most days. That fact that you blog is great — even if no one were to read it, it can become like having a heart to heart with yourself. Which is why I started my own blog (which no one really comes to yet, but that’s okay). I am not yet published and wanted a place where other writers waiting to be published could comment and talk about their unique issues. Stop by some time — but be gentle, I’m a newbie πŸ™‚

  14. Oh bless you, what a journey! But just think what the end of it will bring you–a lovely contract πŸ™‚

    You know the saying, you have to experience the lows so you can truly appreciate the highs.

    Go, Jackie, you can do it!

  15. Hi Wendy – welcome to blogland! Your experience with your ms sounds great. Isn’t it fantastic when you get that breakthrough? Actually, now I know where my heroine is coming from,I am finding it easier to get into her head.
    And yeah, blogging can be great. Sometimes it’s a great way to give yourself a good talking to. πŸ™‚

    Joanne – I think that’s the problem, there will be no guarantee of lovely contracts. But I suppose it’s all a good learning experience. At least, that’s what I tell myself. πŸ™‚

  16. ((HUGS)) Baaad revisions. Bad, bad revisions. But you know it would probably be worse if you found it too easy and then literally ripped your hair out trying to figure out what you were missing. You’ve got it now! Good luck and let us know when you hit the send button!

  17. Lacey – that’s soooo true! Better to have no freaking idea than to be utterly certain you have it right – that way, when the rejection comes you were kind of expecting it! Lol! Yep, will keep you posted.

  18. Character Jackie, what characters? At least you have some! Trying to think of something new but mind is a complete blank! You’ll be fine Jackie, you’ve got your whole framework in front of you and the picture in your head of what you want to see. Go for it!

  19. Susan – thanks! I do have the picture in my head but it’s getting it down that’s the problem. I’m sure some new characters will come along to bother you soon. πŸ˜‰

  20. Hugs, Jackie! I have every sympathy with your frustration, sounds like a familiar scenario. I too am struggling to get my head straight with the demands of writing at the moment. But I’ve been here before and I’ve always got back on the horse, if you’ll forgive the mixed metaphor. As a writer, you hit rough patches all the time, and revisions are often the triggers for sudden self-doubt and lack of umph!

    It’ll all come back to you, things will straighten out, and you’ll find writing easier again. But you do have to work through it. Head down, heart up!


  21. Jane – thanks for the hugs. And I love that – head down, heart up! I’m trying. I’m finding my way, I think. But the only certainty is that nothing is certain! πŸ™‚ Hugs back to you and your writing too.

  22. Throwing a good tantrum does a girl the world of good – as does indulging in a good cry. I can frequently be found doing both.

    As Lorraine said – if anyone can nail this you will.


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