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Revise, Revisit, and Revamp

(Okay, I cheated on the title since revise and revamp are synonyms, but it’s the rule of threes I tell you 😀 )
I reach over for my coffee, a Kona blend from Hawaii with hints of white chocolate and macadamia nut. The current view from my writing office overlooks bird-of-paradise and hibiscus bushes outside at the feet of papaya trees. I can hear the faint rumble of a waterfall in the distance, behind the sounds of the stream burbling over rocks just outside.
My Muse enters without knocking, as usual. He’s still wearing the Vikings jersey, and well-worn (in every sense of the adjective) jeans. “What’s with the Hawaiian theme?”
“It’s been a good week.”
“Hawaiian good?” He picks up the mug I just set down and sniffs it before sipping. “Hawaiian coffee, too?”
“I figured I’d run with the theme for now.”
He wanders to the window. “You’re not slacking, are you?”
“I’m revising, you know that. Hell, you went all Indiana Jones on my ass and canceled your pub crawl to make sure I dug in.”
He turns from the window and smiles that crooked grin that melts a little something inside. “It worked. Besides, Mae’s got Mr. E on house arrest anyway while she works on book 3.”
I reach for my mug, and realize he’s still got it. I’m going to have to make another pot if he’s gonna bogart my coffee. “That’s my cup.”
“Get a different one. I haven’t had Kona for a while.” He sips my java as he wanders to the wall-sized white board. Frowns. “Where are the new threads?”
“I haven’t worked them through yet. I’m still not sure how to weave them in.”
He takes a marker. “If you’re going to go with the agent’s suggestions–and I strongly recommend it because they make sense–you need to reference the brother’s added thread here,” he makes a note on my timeline, “here, and here. If you work with your victim’s thread,” he takes a different colored marker, “you need to adjust here and here for sure. Probably here as well.” He scribbles something.
I join him at the board. “What on earth does that say?”
He peers at his handiwork, then wipes it off with the side of his fist and rewrites it. “Can you read it now?”
Revenge. “Really? That’s quite the trope. I was going to soften her a bit.”
“But if she’s thinking of payback for what happened …”
“How’s that better than blackmail?”
He finishes the coffee and heads to the coffeemaker for a refill. “It’s the personal connection that counts. Revenge requires it to be more personal. The closer the personal connection between the victim and the antagonist, the higher the stakes. That’s Mystery and Suspense 101. Bonus points if there’s a connection between the protagonist and the antagonist.”
I follow the thread. “I just cut five hundred words, and I still need to cut. How am I supposed to add these without bumping my word count back up? I’ll need to add a scene to make the brother’s thread change work.”
He rests an arm around my shoulders. “No, you won’t, love. Well, maybe. Depends on how you handle it.”
“Any suggestions?”
He squeezes my shoulders. “Lots. Let’s get started.”
Isn’t it funny/aggravating when a what-if question or suggestion makes you realize the story has to include that idea? Like a head-slapping “duh” moment?
Yeah, it’s like that.
Sigh. And after I’ve submitted it to agents. Ugh. At least I haven’t gone too far in the submission process quite yet. Small-ish changes, but they’ll round out a couple threads nicely.
Have a great weekend!

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