Thursday, October 15, 2009

Taking a Machete to your WIP

By Ana Aragón

Got your attention, didn't I?

Well, the editor who sent me a six page revision letter after having my manuscript dropped on her desk sure got mine. After flying through her letter I tossed it into the trash and stormed out of the house to drown my sorrows in a cup of chai tea at my local Starbucks.

What did she know? After all, my original editor LOVED the premise of my story and had approved the delightful prologue and first three chapters of my "baseball, secret baby, shotgun wedding" story. This particular editor suggested I get rid of the prologue and start my book with Chapter 3.

Chapter 3? What? Get rid of that lovely prose and witty dialogue between my hero and heroine? Start my book in HER POV?

What the.....?

Well, it took me one year to get over it and I finally decided to pitch the story as a long contemporary series book to another publisher. So when the editor I pitched to asked me to send the full manuscript, I knew what I had to do...yeah, get rid of the prologue and start the book with Chapter 3. If you need to get rid of 20,000 words, that's a good place to start!

So I took my machete to the manuscript and here's a snippet of the opening scene. I've got to say, it does seem to get to the heart of the story.

Oh, and that wonderful prologue? You just might find it later this month, buried somewhere in the PFHT Treasure Hunt!


On a frigid, wet Christmas Eve, Nikki Logan’s carefully constructed, secret life came apart at the seams. It wasn’t pretty.

She maneuvered through the semi-closed door and pushed Dominic Moretti back through the festive entry before anyone could see him, slamming shut the door behind her. Christmas Eve in Logan Springs, Georgia meant food, and lots of it. Family and friends had just started to fill their plates, so she was guaranteed at least ten minutes before they realized she was missing.

Her heart beat faster than a Major league fastball in July. “What the hell do you think you’re doing here?” she hissed.

“Has anyone ever told you that you have anger issues?” Dominic’s sultry voice and bedroom brown eyes added an extra layer of goose bumps to her quickly-freezing arms. He leaned in and gave her a sweet peck on the cheek. “Merry Christmas, cara.”
She broke into a cold sweat while scenarios of how she was going to get out of this mess raced through her mind. It was a shame the only plausible one was pushing Dominic off a familiar bridge and into the Chattahoochee River. Sadly, it was a good two-mile hike through the sleet in ridiculously high heels, which she’d agreed to wear tonight against her better judgment.
Maybe she could coax him into her truck.


Debbie Kaufman said...

Oh, Ana, I love it. The truck line at the end made me laugh. My kind of woman!

Marilyn Baron said...

Love it, love it, love it.

Marilyn Baron

Cinthia Hamer said...

Very nice, Ana! Toes crossed that this new editor loves it, too!

Pam said...

I'm in! :)

Christine said...

Love the first line!

Maxine Davis said...


You better enter that 1st paragraph in that contest. Great work.

I can't imagine it starting off any better - but do include that dialog some time! I'd like to read it.

Good luck!!!

Margie Lawson said...

Ana --

Woohoo! Powerful opening!

Love the simile you used to make the visceral response fresh.

Her heart beat faster than a Major League fastball in July.

The whole passage is a WINNER!

I like the machete reference too. When I recommend that Editing Partners dig deep into deep editing, I call it TRADING THE HATCHET. :-)

Nicki Salcedo said...

Nice excerpt and even better advice. I'm off to find my machete. I found Linsey's story last night. I can't wait to find yours!

Dianna Love said...

Way to go Ana! Very fun reading that - and I bet you find other places to use those wonderful lines you had to cut.

These editors do know their business. "g"

Cyrano said...

I murdered my WIP yesterday. I sliced off three pages, gutted another and ended up butchering a few deserving paragraphs...machete firm in hand.
I actually think all that blood shed made the story better.
Loved the excerpt. We need more of those on PFHT.
Have a lovely afternoon.

Susan May said...

Good going. I hate to give up my great sentences so I save them for another time, another book.

Darcy Crowder said...

Ana, I loved it! All of it. Very fresh and fun. I can't wait to read the whole thing. I think I actually heard Mr. Bedroom brown eyes whisper "Merry Christmas, cara." Yum. :)

Ana Aragón said...

Hey, guys!

I thought I was posting but I didn't sign in so it all went into cyberspace. Thank you so much for all your kind words....

And Tamara...what did you use to murder your WIP yesterday?

Tami Brothers said...

Loved it!!! Thank you so much for sharing this, Ana!!! We can't wait for that yes we know is soon to come.


Tami Brothers said...

I forgot to mention that I, too, found Linsey's story. Very good!!! You definitely touched my heart.

If you haven't yet read Linsey Lanier's story, click on the link on the sidebar and check it out. You don't want to miss it!!


Leslie Ann Dennis said...

It's never easy cutting up your baby... but it's really terrific what it's turning into! WTG I'm so proud of you!

Ana Aragón said...

Thanks Tami and if I can just get that editor to say she wants it!


Linsey Lanier said...

Great opening, Ana. The editor was right (and you're talented). Good luck with the submission!

Love the machete line. I need to do that in a few places in my current wip, where beta reader told me "slows down the action!" LOL.

Wow. Thanks, everyone, for all the buzz about my story. Nicki's, Carol's, and Tami's are good, too. And there's more to come!!!

Can't wait for Ana's.


Katie said...

I love the opening.

I loved the truck line, too. Save those fantastic conversations, the ones you know sparkle for later on, and sneak them in!

Carol Burnside said...

VERY nice, but it's too short (whine)!

Anna Steffl said...

A day late, but so glad I check in to read this. I was grinning on those last sentences. What a fantastic sense of humor!

J Perry Stone said...

It's fantastic! YOU are a quick read, Ana.

I found myself racing through this ... just like a fastball in July :)

Ana Aragón said...

Hey, Linsey, I'm glad you stopped by so I could tell you how much I enjoyed your story! You are submitting it to a women's magazine, right? It would be perfect!

Thanks, Katie. I have everything I've cut out and in another document, hoping I can use it!

Carol...I struggled to figure out where to end the excerpt...I wasn't happy yet with the rest of what I'd know how that goes!

Thanks so much, Anna, and it means a lot coming from you, since I usually end up ROFLOL when I read your stuff!

JP...thanks! Now I just have to race through and finish the darn thing!