Guest Post by Author Ryan Graudin: Revisions

Today I am so excited to have Ryan Graudin stopping by the blog! Her book sounds amazing and I'm pretty sure she's going to be one popular author. Which is why it is so cool she's doing this guest post, because then I can tell people, "Uh, I know her. She totally did a guest post on my blog." Anyway. Thanks for being here, Ryan!

When she’s not writing and drifting around the globe, Ryan Graudin enjoys hunting through thrift stores and taking pictures of her native Charleston, SC. Her novel LUMINANCE HOUR, the story of a Faery who falls in love with the prince she’s forced to guard, is due out with HarperTeen in 2013. You can learn about all of these things and more at http://ryangraudin.blogspot.com. You can also follow her on Twitter at @ryangraudin

When I was a senior in high school, I used to do my homework at my parents’ kitchen table. One afternoon, as I was distinctly exasperated with my workload of Honors Physics and AP English assignment, I looked over at my mom and asked, “Will there be any homework in college?”

She just stared back with a dubious look. Years later, when I was balancing the reading of four separate English classes and a writing fiction class, I would think back on that moment and laugh. How could I ever have thought that there wouldn’t be homework in college?

Well, revisions are kind of like that too. When you first finish the rough draft of your manuscript you probably jump around the house for a day or two in jubilation (I know I do). Somewhere inside those 48 hours the sinister realization sinks in that your manuscript has flaws. Flaws that cannot stay. Flaws that must be fixed.

That’s when the real work begins.

It took me four months to write the first draft of Luminance Hour. It took me two major revisions (as well as countless smaller ones) to find my wonderful agent. Once I signed with Alyssa, I tempted the vain thought that maybe the bulk of the work for the manuscript was behind me. *insert evil laughter here* A few weeks after she signed me, Alyssa sent me a four page revision letter for my manuscript, pointing out the weaknesses of my story and showing me how to fix them. We went through two rounds of this before it was shipped out into the wide world of editors.

Surely. Surely now the majority of labor to snap this story into shape was behind me now.

I was fortunate enough to get my manuscript picked up by HarperTeen and work with editor Alyson Day. My revision letter arrived in my mailbox on December 19th. It wasn’t so long, only four pages (I have friends whose letters are twelve + pages long). But within those four pages was a month and a half worth of work (compared to my agent’s four pages, which took about three weeks to fix).

What was in this letter you ask?

An editor’s first revision letter usually addresses “big picture” issues, such as plot, character arcs and world-building. My letter helped guide me through the development of two separate characters. It also addressed the romance in the book and its pacing. All of these were things I agreed with and was eager to make work.

I finished these revisions on February 10th and sent them back to my editor. She’s reading them now with red pen in hand, getting another letter ready for the second round! From my understanding, the second round of edits focuses on smaller things—individual scenes. There is also a line-edit, where your editor goes through the novel line by line and focuses on language (awkward sentences, repeated words, etc.).

But wait. There’s more!

If you’re lucky and your revisions get approved after the second round, then you will go on to copy-edits. Copy editors check your story for grammatical, cultural and historical accuracy. In my case, they will probably tear my story apart for American words and turns of phrase (my characters are all British).

After copy edits, the author has to read through the galley of the manuscript and look for typos (those pesky things are everywhere!). Then, and only then, is the book finally out of the writer’s hands.

Phew.

Oh hold on! Don’t forget you just finished the rough draft of your next novel!

I think it’s safe to say, a writer’s work is never done.