Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Revising in the Merry Month of May . . .

A trip from the west coast to the east coast of two weeks is sure to shake up the old writing schedule. But that's a simple matter of packing and unpacking, creating a writing space out of a corner, and rising early (despite the time change) to work when everyone else sleeps.

Add the intensity of a family reunion and a wedding, where hugs and tears were exchanged all around, the sunniest of days, the most prodigious amount of food, and then the wrench of saying goodbye.

I can report that the next round of edits is now complete on Years of Stone, bringing me closer to my goal of publishing this summer. Hooray!

And then came the most blistering review of Years of Stone. This rearranges how I'm thinking about where I am. For the review comes from an established, respected publication in response to the full mss. After a summary, here is that last paragraph:

Deidre's is a unique journey and her story's setting a fascinating one, but this novel gets ahead of itself from the start, robbing subsequent developments of importance. There are the beginnings of interesting characters, but they fail to flourish as the book skids from one plot line to the next. Static despite abrupt plot developments and emotional shifts and lacking the heart that its opaque central couple is meant to provide, this book flounders, leaving a flotsam of interesting factual tidbits and only feints at engaging characterizations in its wake.

First, the review is about the writing, not the writer. That's important. And, I have received that rare gift, a look at the structure of my story from another viewpoint, that of a seasoned reviewer.

So, folks, it sure looks like another round of edits is needed to analyze pacing, consistent character development, abrupt plot shifts, and, perhaps most important, the inner life of my main characters. 

This level of editing may take the rest of the summer and will require looking at those bedrock issues I confront through my writing -- the fear of abandonment and survival against seemingly impossible odds. But I will persevere!

Wisteria at Longwood Gardens, PA (Camp 2014)


  1. Hi Beth,

    I know a review like that can be good but I know my feelings couldn't help but feel a little disappointed that my (baby) book didn't get the best review but at least you know where it needs work. I will be thinking good thoughts for you and I know you will come out on the other side with a better book!

    Morgan Dragonwillow

    1. Thank you, Morgan. Whatever it is that pushes some folks to write is buried too deeply to step away. It's naive to think others will simply like our work or that we should bend to every response. But a thoughtful review, positive or negative, is valuable -- if I have the intellectual and emotional strength to 'read' it truly. Thank you so much for your words of encouragement.

  2. (Beth).

    I'm glad you are going into it with a positive attitude, even if the review was much less so.

    Like you said, it does give you a better idea of where the problem areas are, and that's valuable insight, even if it's in bitter packaging.

    Although not on a professional level, I got an equally scathing review from a friend whose opinion I valued and trusted. It stung!

    I didn't write seriously for quite some time after that, but I finally realized what you did, that it wasn't about me, but about the story.

    More, what my friend said was right. I needed to address some very serious issues, and my writing was much better once I did that...

    And, of course, there are other things I still need to address...

    May you find that the next revision brings your story to even more vibrant life!

    1. Thank you, Shan, for commenting with such a story. I like that saying, "When the student is ready, the teacher appears!" I'm not so sure I was ready, but determination and perseverance to write well guides me -- to the next round of revision~