Monday, May 26, 2008
The Joy of Revisions
Okay, that's a misleading title. There is very little joy in revisions, but still, I thought I'd comment on revisions for my used-to-be-A-Fairy-Godmother's-Guide-to-Saving-Troubled-Teens-and-now-will-be-whatever-the-marketing-department-comes-up-with. The last title they suggested was, "Be Careful What You Wish For" which I quickly vetoed. I mean, besides being a cliche, it gives the reader no indication that this book is a fantasy-comedy-romance. Which it is.
Here is the briefest of synopsis:
When Savannah's boyfriend, Hunter, dumps her for her older sister, she is understandably devastated. Luckily, Savannah has something most sixteen-year-old girls don't--a fairy godmother. She wishes for a handsome prince to take her to prom and is transported back to the Middle Ages where she lives the life of both Cinderella and Snow White. It wasn't what she meant. It wasn't what she wanted, but now she's got to find a way to deal with spiteful stepsisters and a queen who wants her dead, while she tries to figure out how to undo a fairy's enchantment and get back home.
The hard thing about this book is that when I sent it to Walker it was 110,000 words (about 435 pages) and my editor wanted it cut back to 85,000 words. (about 335 pages) I knew it could be trimmed a little even before I sent it in, and I must admit I left it long on purpose. I figured that they'd want cuts regardless, and if I cut it down to 100,000 words before I sent it in they would ask me to cut it down to say, 75,000 words instead of 85,000.
I'm not sure whether I'm right about that or not, but at any rate, I ended up cutting more than I wanted and it still ended up at 91,000 words. But they're really good words. Trust me.
So here is a bit of what had to go:
The sentence where I described Savannah's Snow White outfit. I said it was a simple red gown, thankfully lacking the collar in Disney's version, which made Snow White look like she was wearing a megaphone around her neck. My editor cut that because she didn't want Disney mad at us. She may be right about that. I probably wrote that line while pondering the hour-long lines at our last Disneyland vacation.
I also had to cut some of the religious refrences about the Middle Ages. My editor didn't want any mention of religion in the book because religion, at least Christian religion, is a taboo subject in young adult literature. I know, it doesn't make any sense. Especially since we are dealing with the Middle Ages. Is it a surprise to anybody that the people of that time were Catholic? No matter, I cut the scene where she went to church and the mention of her reading in her history book about popes and bishops.
My last example of cuts: I had to cut all the parts that dealt with leprechaun drinking. Originally I had a leprechaun who'd accidentally come to Virgina with Savannah's Irish neighbors. He had one too many Guinnesses and crawled into a box to sleep it off. When he woke up he was in an airplane cargo box, wedged between a bunch of knickers, and flying over the Pacific ocean.
Really, now that I think about it, he was sort of a lush.
My editor didn't want any mention of alcohol in the book. Which is ironic because I don't drink at all. So yeah, you'd think I'd be the last one to encourage any young, impressionable leprechauns to start downing whiskey. Plus, it was probably a good idea to cut those parts because the drinking-leprechaun is sort of a stereo type, and I wouldn't want a bunch of angry leprechauns banning my book.
So now the book has nothing in it that will make any magical creatures, anti-Catholics, or the Disney corporation mad at me.
And it has tons of good stuff. Really, it's going to be a great book.
Posted by Janette Rallison at 10:14 AM