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John DeDakis

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Member Since: May, 2006

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1/7/2009 5:54:24 AM    [ Flag as Inappropriate ]

After seven rewrites, my agent accepts my "Bluff" manuscript.

Geez..... has it really been more than seven months since I blogged?

In my last entry, I told of the disappointment I felt when my agent told me my "Bluff" manuscript needed some reworking. I thought I'd nailed it. But I've been an editor myself long enough to know that ALL writers need honest feedback about what works -- and, more importantly, about what DOESN'T.

My first novel, "Fast Track," is told entirely in first person, even though my sleuth, Lark Chadwick, is solving the mystery of deaths that happened 25 years earlier. "Bluff" is a continuation of FT. There are two story lines: The present-day drama of Lark's new life as an investigative journalist with a new love in her life, coupled with events in the life (and death) of Holly Stone, the daughter of Lark's mentor-boss, Lionel. Eventually the two stories intersect, but I was trying to tell them in parallel, like railroad tracks. (What is it with me and trains, I wonder?)

For Barbara Casey, my agent, my flashback scenes didn't work. Oh, she said I'd done a good job of clearly differentiating between present-day action and prior events. What she didn't like was that the flashbacks slowed the pacing.

I knew in my heart that I could make the changes she suggested, but it still seemed so daunting.

I let other things crowd out my writing time.

I taught a journalism class at American University over the summer -- and an online class to journalism grad students at Regent University during the fall. That left little time to write, yet I managed to squeeze in some moments when I could tweak the manuscript.

To solve the flashback problem, I found ways to take the story I'd set along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru, and bring it forward two years to the present day. I did that by creating scenes in which characters conveyed the action of those past events in present-day dialogue. I also used a few diary excerpts to take the reader back to Peru.

Once again, I submitted the manuscript to Barbara.

Once again, she kicked it back to me.

She said I had vastly improved the story, but had left in too much Peru stuff, leaving the novel's storyline more cluttered than clear. (That's what happens when you go on site to do your research -- you come back with great anecdotes and details that add nothing to your story.) I kept in some of the Peru stuff to give texture to the novel, but I ruthlessly dumped another 15,000 words.

This time, Barbara loved it and submitted it to my publisher, Bob Gelinas at ArcheBooks. We hope to hear back from him soon.

Lessons relearned:

-It's important to have an agent.
-It's necessary to have an agent who's a good editor.
-It's critical to be willing and able to rewrite what YOU thought was brilliant.

Comments (2)

More Blogs by John DeDakis
• Ode to a Mentor....Or Letter from the Grave - Thursday, September 23, 2010
• You Should Write a Book - Wednesday, April 21, 2010
• Ever Feel Inadequate? - Tuesday, April 20, 2010
• Change is Good - Tuesday, February 23, 2010
• Overcoming the Fear of Rejection - Tuesday, November 03, 2009
• Beating Writer's Block - Tuesday, October 27, 2009
• What a Manuscript Editor Does (and Doesn't) Do - Monday, September 07, 2009
• Confessions of a Cross-gender Writer - Saturday, July 04, 2009
• 5 Ways to Stay Organized While Writing a Novel - Tuesday, May 19, 2009
• Writing for the Ear; Writing for the Eye - Sunday, May 17, 2009
• Plan a Little; Write a Little - Friday, May 01, 2009
• Building a Novel - Friday, April 10, 2009
• Writing a Screenplay - Tuesday, February 17, 2009
•  VICTORY! - Wednesday, January 07, 2009  
• A Creative Setback...and Opportunity - Wednesday, May 14, 2008
• Heading to the Inca Trail - Saturday, September 15, 2007
• Solving the Time Problem - Thursday, April 05, 2007
• Simmer Mode - Saturday, March 31, 2007
• The Art of Flitting - Friday, February 02, 2007
• Brooding - Monday, January 29, 2007
• Scene Building - Sunday, January 14, 2007
• Getting Stuff Done - Tuesday, January 09, 2007
• Connecting - Sunday, December 03, 2006
• Making Revisions - Friday, December 01, 2006
• In Search of Balance - Sunday, November 12, 2006
• The (sort of) Daily Muse - Thursday, November 09, 2006

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