When Is Revising Your Novel Like Pulling Teeth?–by Deana Coddaire

A: Pretty much all the time.

At least for me, it is. And especially this particular revision, which involves completely removing a main character’s POV from the storyline.

Why would I take such a drastic move? Well, pull up a chair. I’ll try to be brief.

After finishing my novel (over FOUR years ago) and thoroughly researching the query process, I sent my baby off to 15 different literary agents. And was rejected 15 times. Now, I know what you’re saying. “Stephen King was rejected umpty-ump times before he was published,” or “J.K. Rowling was rejected plenty of times.” I know. I get it. But I have no doubts whatsoever that, with each and every “no thank you” missive, their confidence levels waned.

So, after substantial waning on my part, I decided to toss my novel (and my work on part two of the series) in the proverbial drawer for a while and work on something completely different: memoir. Which I actually had a small measure of success with; my first publishing credits were both in this genre. Go, me! But always in the back of my heart and mind was my poor little (well, not so little; 90k words) manuscript, all alone and dusty in that dark drawer.

Fast forward to a year ago, when I finally decided to bite the bullet and pay someone to really go through my story and suggest what (if anything) could be done to help it become more attention-grabbing. Her main advise was to cut out one of the three main character’s POV–the antagonist’s. My external response to this recommendation was something like, “What a great idea! Yes, I’ll get right on that,” while my internal monologue was altogether different: “WHAT? How in tarnation does one do that? How will anyone know X, Y, or Z? Do you know how LONG it took me to write that? Do you know how long it will take me to FIX that? I don’t wannnnaaaaaaaaaaaaaa….”

Which brings me to today. I’ve been working on that manuscript in fits and starts, but nowhere near the dedication level I’d had when first writing the thing. The process has been nothing short of drudgery–trying to work in all of the necessary explanatory information from the bad guy’s perspective into those of the other two characters’ has been a lesson in patience and meticulous attention to detail…two things I am sadly lacking. I’ve realized, however, that my story will absolutely flow better once all of that heavy exposition has been extracted from the plot; I’ve been able to integrate it, bit by bit, by culling it down into shorter information bytes and inserting these tidbits into dialogue.

I guess, much like many things in life, no matter how much you love something (writing), there will always be aspects of that thing that kind of, well…suck. I have found that, in order to get through the stuff that sucks, I just have to, ahem…suck it up. It’s almost always for the best.

Now, suck it up and go write something.