Midnight at the Neon Tiger: A Story of Revision

Hello, friends. I know it’s been awhile, but the reason it’s been awhile is because I’ve been revising. A lot. SO MUCH. And I’m finally done. Yes, you read that right. I’M DONE. I’m done with my revision and boy was it a big one.

With the help of my wonderful mentor, Allison Saft, I was able to to rewrite a good 80% of my novel. Yeah. 80%. That’s not a typo. In the past eight weeks since AMM mentees were announced, I’ve been furiously diving into NEON TIGER, taking a giant pair of scissors to the manuscript and cutting everything that didn’t make the novel stronger. Since I’m big on transparency in the writing world, I wanted to talk about my process and hopefully give you all some insight on how exactly I went about revisions.:

  • THE PHONE CALL

Before I got started with actual revisions, Alison and I had scheduled a phone call for the 8th of March, 2020 (this already feels like a lifetime away, doesn’t it?). After nearly three hours of chatting and untangling various plot points, I thought I had enough to go on to begin outlining. Again. For the third time. You see, before this phone call, even, Allison sent me a list of questions to fill out about my book and my characters, and she also wanted me to do a reverse outline, which is basically when you outline a book after you’ve written it. The first time I outlined NEON TIGER (vaguely) was when I conceptualized the idea. And so, the revision outline made three.

It wasn’t just any old outline, either. Many of you might have heard of the Save the Cat Method, also known as a Beat Sheet. Using categories from this beat sheet, I ended up outlining every scene of NEON TIGER again.

Once that was done..I BEGAN.

  • THE SCENE-SPLICING

Allison told me once that the whole book, as she read it during AMM, didn’t need to be rewritten. Naturally, I was like, haha, WHEW, but then…What do you know, I ended up rewriting almost all of it. I have no one to blame but myself.

BUT, before I rewrote everything, I did a little scene splicing. i worked with the words I’d already written and wanted to keep, combining them with all new scenes I had to write from scratch.

  • THE REWRITING

Now, this may not apply to some of you reading this, but the scale of NEON TIGER’S revision was, uh…Very large. I’d say I spent most of my revision time completely rewriting what I had. I cut characters, added new ones, twisted plots around, and perhaps most excitingly–ADDED TONS MORE ROMANCE. The rewriting portion of my revision took the bulk of my time. Keep in mind, this wasn’t just revising scenes I had already written. This was writing entirely new scenes with entirely new plotlines. It was a lot.

Now that we’ve got the major categories out of the way, let me tell you some specific things I may have added/changed/deleted in this revision:

  • Cut at least three characters
  • Added one character
  • Completely removed one plotline
  • Moved another plotline into an entirely different setting
  • Toned down certain elements of the book
  • Completely cranked up certain elements (like the romance)

…Among many other things. The main focus of this revision was to make the plot as tight as possible, and to make the plot as tight as possible, I had to change things. A lot of things, I’d wager that this version of NEON TIGER is 80% different than the draft that came before it. It’s not completely rewritten, but it’s close.

Was it a lot of work? Yes.

Do I regret any of it? Absolutely not. This revision–while a major one–only served to made the book stronger. I’m sure there will be more revisions to come, but this one felt like a great leap forward in my (hopefully) budding career.

Writing is rewriting, after all.

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