Laura Griffin’s background as a journalist serves her well as a novelist—she’s constantly interviewing experts and researching facts for her novels in an effort to ground her fictional adventures in enough reality to give them a sense of possibility. For her bestselling Tracers series, which features a forensic photographer and an FBI agent who form an uneasy partnership to find a vicious criminal, Laura interviewed FBI agents, private investigators, crime scene investigators, and forensic artists. Her hard work is recognized by readers and reviewers and has earned her various awards, including both a RITA Award for Whisper of Warning and a Daphne du Maurier Award for Untraceable in 2010. Her debut novel, One Last Breath, won the Booksellers Best Award in the Romantic Suspense category, and her novels Snapped, Unspeakable, and Untraceable were all nominated for Reviewers’ Choice Awards by RT Book Reviews magazine. The Editor is honored to have Laura with us for Revision Week.
*After Laura’s interview are instructions for entering today’s Free Partial Edit Giveaway.
How many drafts does it typically take before you feel confident about the character and story choices you made?
Thanks for inviting me to be part of Revision Week! Every author I know has a different process and it’s interesting to hear how people do it.
For me, I become more and more confident about my character and story choices as I near the end of the first draft. Sometimes after the book is finished and the story is “percolating” I will realize some aspect of the plot isn’t true to character, so I’ll go back and make changes.
How much revising happens after the editor sees that draft?
My editor will send me a revision letter with lots of ideas about what is working and what needs more focus. Sometimes I will overhaul an element of the suspense plot or develop a character more fully. Sometimes I will cut a character or subplot altogether if it’s distracting too much from the main story. I try to get all of my major changes into that round of revisions so that I don’t drive everyone crazy at the line-editing and copy-editing phase.
Do you use critique partners?
Nope, never have.
Your romantic storylines are as prominent in your books as your thriller plotlines. How does this dual prominence affect your revision strategy?
I think it’s important to have a balance, but I always try to remember that no matter how compelling a plot is, the reader is really in it for the characters. So I try to make sure I focus plenty of attention on character arc so that the story will have an emotional punch.
Can you share an experience of having a story problem you didn’t think you could solve but eventually did?
I write suspense stories, so sometimes the logistics get complicated and I feel like I’ve hit a wall. But I have learned to tap into the experts I know for help. For example, I had a plot problem once involving an airplane flight, so I called up a pilot friend and explained that I needed my characters to be crossing a border at a certain time and place and he came up with a plausible way to make it work.
Sometimes you just need to get some distance from your story and a plot solution will come to you.
What’s the most drastic thing you’ve done to a story while revising?
Cutting scenes always feels drastic to me. I try not to get hung up on all the time I spent creating something that ends up on the cutting room floor, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.
How do you know you’ve got the final draft?
I don’t ever really feel like the story is final. I certainly never feel like it’s perfect. But you pour your heart and soul into it and then eventually let go and hope what you’ve written will touch someone.
The Editor is giving away another FREE PARTIAL EDIT of your manuscript. Note that the winner of today’s giveaway IS eligible for Saturday’s grand prize Full Manuscript Edit Giveaway. Here are the rules, with a bonus entry available to DearEditor.com subscribers:
- Your manuscript can be of ANY GENRE or CATEGORY (for adults or children, fiction or non-fiction), including picture books.
- The partial edit will cover the FIRST CHAPTER of your manuscript. In the case of a picture book entry, the edit will cover the entire manuscript—but the manuscript cannot exceed 7 double-spaced, 12-pt font pages.
- Deadline: MIDNIGHT tonight, March 26, 2013, PST.
- Winner will be randomly selected using Randomizer.org and announced on March 27, 2013, in the DearEditor.com comments section and on the DearEditor.com Facebook page, and the winner will be notified directly via email.
One entry – SEND EMAIL to DearEditor.com using the “Write to The Editor” button at the top of the blog or by clicking here. Type “Free Picture Book Edit Giveaway” in the subject line. In the body of the email, include the TITLE of your manuscript and YOUR FULL NAME. DO NOT send your manuscript or any portion of it. (If you have any difficulty with the contact button, send an email entry directly to email@example.com.) *If you do not want your title announced, please use an alternate working title.*
Bonus entry – SUBSCRIBE. DearEditor.com subscribers get a bonus entry by sending a second email with “Subscriber’s Bonus Giveaway Entry” in the subject line and your title and full name in the body. (Note: the Editor will verify!) Not a subscriber yet? Then subscribe now by clicking on the “Subscribe” button at the top of DearEditor.com and then email your second entry.
Anyone who doesn’t follow these rules will be disqualified, at the Editor’s discretion.
Disclaimer: The Editor does not share or in any other way use your contact information; it’s collected solely for winner contact purposes at the end of the giveaway.
I’m happy to announce that the winner of yesterday’s Free Partial Edit Giveaway is Kate Larkindale, with her manuscript STUMPED. Congratulations, Kate! Good luck to all for today’s giveaway.
Congratulations, Katie! That’s a nice surprise to start your day.
Kate’s my CP and I’m so thrilled for her!! 🙂
Thanks very much to Laura for talking about her revision style. I agree – distance helps in solving plot problems. For some reason, clean dishes help me, since I can usually fix plot problems when I’m washing dishes!lol
[…] If not, read her helpful comments about revisions here. […]
Thanks so much! I can’t wait to see what you think. And I’m terrified to know….
Thank you, Laura and Deborah, for another interesting interview. Congratulations on all your books.
Another one not using critique partners? Personally I find the insights of my CPs invaluable, and treasure the companionship which makes a nice counterpoint to the usual solitude of the writing life.
It is interesting how many of your guests do not use critique partners. I appreciate all the authors for sharing their journey’s 🙂
The last couple of replies mention the guest not using critique partners. I wonder if they used them in the beginning. I love the PB critique group I’m in and having other eyes seeing what I don’t.
These interviews are great!
That’s a good question, Rick. In the future, I’ll make sure to ask that as a follow-up when a published author says they don’t use critique groups. Clearly Laura never has, and in yesterday’s interview Larry Dane Brimner had a negative experience with a critique group and learned to rely on his own judgement. I suppose that as with so many other aspects of creativity, there are many paths to a finished manuscript, and not all of them include critique groups. Intriguing.
Congrats, Katie!! 🙂