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.


Debbie Barr said...

Heh heh, it sounds pretty good! I can't wait to read it! And I hope that the title comes out okay. *crosses fingers*

Janette Rallison said...

You and me both!

megs said...

Hurray! A great big fun book for me to read some time in the hopefully-not-too-distant-future. It'll be fun to see some fantasy thrown into the mix. Good luck!

Anna Maria Junus said...

It sounds hilarious!

So do you need help thinking up titles?

And by the way, yes you can quote me as long as you use my name.

I'm envious. You have an editor.

Asenath said...

You having to take out religious references when talking about the Middle Ages is like having to not talk about racism or violence when referring to West Side Story.

Marcia Mickelson said...

It sounds like a great story. Can't wait to read it especially because I'm coming out of just-read-Ella-Enchanted phase and need another great fairy godmother story. Too bad I have to wait until it comes out. I'll be looking forward to it.

Stephanie Humphreys said...

I can't wait for it to come out. My daughters will definitely love this one.

Annette Lyon said...

You know, Snow White does look like she has a megaphone around her neck. I never thought of that before.

I'll be looking forward to this one. I always love your books.

KA said...

I just read All's Fair in Love, War, and High School. Finding YA lit without all the lazy clich├ęs is great, plus it was hilarious. I'm amazed that you've written so many novels. I'm almost halfway through writing my second novel at the moment, and it's hard to persuade myself to keep going. How do you keep writing and writing and writing like that?

Janette Rallison said...

Because the alternative is cleaning my house. It's amazing how much writing you can get done when you don't want to clean your bathroom.

Tamra Norton said...

Ooooh--it sounds so good! Can't wait!

Be sure to schedule more school visits in Houston again so you can come hang out at Hotel Norton. :)

Anonymous said...

When is it coming out?! I can't wait! I've read almost all of the lds fiction in the library and I need more!

Melinda said...

I used to wish I had a dress that looked like I was wearing a megaphone around my neck. But then, I was only four.

I'm sure Disney would be sending you hate mail over that one. :-)

Drunken Leprachauns? Shocking!!!

But really, doesn't everyone think of leprachauns and megaphones while avoiding cleaning the toilet?

This was a great post. Very creative.

Julie Wright said...

Odd that they made you take out the catholic references. I am thinking of several of Avi's books that have many religious references. Those are the bookas that won Newberys. Interesting. Regardless of the chopping block and Snow Whites unsightly collar, I know your book will be fabulous. I do hope you get to keep your title. That is a wicked awesome title! I'm glad you vetoed the other one.

The Golfing Librarian said...

I always thought of Snow White's collar as one of those things that you put around your dog's neck to keep him/her from scratching/biting themselves.
I don't like working around the house either. Maybe I should take up writing too. The quality of said writing would be immaterial; just as long as it got me away from the house work! ;)

Unknown said...

It sounds sooo good!! When does it come out? I love all of your books, so I'm looking forward to reading it!!

Janette Rallison said...

The last I heard it is coming out in January.

Josi said...

So religion is just as bad as drunkeness in YA literature? Interesting :-)

Gabrielle said...

I'm surprised she made you take out religious references and drinking. I mean, ALL teenagers experience religion and drinking in some form, it's not as if they're bubble-wrapped. Lauren Myracle, E. Lockhart, Ellen Hopkins, Judy Blume... all use slightly-maybe "taboo" subjects, all YA, all great authors. And people read their books.