Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Playing with Stakes - not the Vampire kind!

Thee first draft of RESET was unreadable. A Great Big Mess.

I painstakingly put the whole thing through a wringer, then mercilessly chopped, pasted, rewrote. That was the FIRST BIG REWRITE.

I was so proud! My story worked!

Er, say again?

I prematurely queried ten agents - not top picks. Well, most weren't. Guess what? TEN form rejections. No surprise there. But that was okay - I was just getting my feet wet...Wasn't I?

After submitting my first five pages to the folks at the forums, I began to grasp what was wrong.

Back to the drawing board. I became the Ruthless Reviser yet again, cutting 15,000 words and tightening the story, making the plot clearer. I read the whole thing out loud to my dogs and was pleasantly surprised when I found I enjoyed it!

So, I'm ready to hit the query trenches again... Except, what the hell is my book really about? Sure there's romance, there's a twist, there's a couple of immortal beings.... But the stakes are not high enough. There's a lot of conflict, but no CONFLICT. There's not a whole lot to lose that the character hasn't already lost before.

It seemed I wrote my entire novel without asking any QUESTIONS!!!

Don't know what I'm talking about?

So the new question is: Can I raise my stakes, or should I stake my novel? Hmm, I'm not sure my MC can be killed that easily!

Happy Question Asking! When in doubt...Just ask "WHY?"


  1. I've done this a lot!!!! It took me three full rewrites before I figured out I didn't have enough action. I ended up combining an idea I had for a second book (if it turned into a series) with the first book and KABOOM! It's working. At least...I hope it's working. I'm doing a few little rewrites and it's off to critique people and on to holding my breath while they read it.

  2. Good for you! I'm pretty excited about my ideas too... I am SO close tio a fix for my broken book, I can feel it!!!

  3. Hey, thought this might help you with your revisions:

    Best of luck, Roberta!

  4. lexcade, THANKS!!!!!!!! This is great. Also, I just signed up for HTTS and holy crap, the clustering thing just sort of took off like crazy...I'm finding all SORTS of neat solutions, plus tons and tons of stuff for the prequel, which is stalled out. If I got nothing more from the course, it would have been worth it just for lesson One :)

  5. Roberta, it sounds like you're being brave as well as practical, and thinking through just the right things. I think we've all queried too early (or at least most of us!). Good luck with your revisions!

  6. Maybe putting it aside for a while will help you gain the perspective you need. It worked for me.

  7. Hey, so I was checking out things around your blog and OMG I LOVE sheep :) I had a couple growing up and I've just fallen in love with them. Hopefully when I get out of college I can settle down and raise some. Which breed(s) do you have and what are your opinions on Great Pyrenees (if you have any)?

  8. Hi Bethany - we have Border Cheviots. They are a rare breed in Canada. They're smaller (ewes top out at about 125 lbs) so I can flip them myself :) Good moms, good foragers. Generally easy keepers. We have no Livestock Guardian Dogs, though we do have a coyote problem. We have since kept the sheep behind e-net and no attacks since (fingers crossed!).

  9. Thanks Juliette!
    Demitria - I HAVE MADE THE BREAKTHROUGH - I think (with yet another rewrite, I can FIX this!!!)I did put it aside, actually began work on something completely unrelated, then BOOM. It's been a good week so far! :)

  10. I'm glad you haven't had any more attacks. We used to have some problems with coyote's and our baby calves, but as the city grew the problem has lessened drastically. I guess that's one good thing about urban sprawl. I think a lot of people underestimate how big and strong sheep can get, sounds like you've gotten that taken care of though :)

  11. I'm a firm beleiver that if you are truly a fan of a story, you should NEVER scrap it for good. It sounds to me like you are on the right track with rewrites - remember, nothing is typically agent worthy for a debut author until draft six or so. (Man, that sucks, doesn't it?!) If you really struggle, you could always try walking away to work on another project. Sometimes the air really clears if we step away for a bit. And I have to say, you have a very entertaining voice in your posts. Clearly, you are a great storyteller.

  12. If you love your novel, don't stake it! You're on the right track with stakes and you can do it!

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  13. Pual, Angela - thanks! I am enjoying this rewrite even more than the last :)