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Lisa Gardner and Her Three-Year Revision

gardner.jpgHow much revision does a single thriller need? One author revised her first thriller for three years straight.

At Thrillerfest this week, novelist Lisa Gardner explained how she sold her first thriller to Bantam, but endured a three-year editing process as her editor whipped the The Perfect Husband into shape.

Gardner (pictured, via Philbrick Photography) advised all novelists to look at the “level of minutiae” in their manuscript–paying attention to how many pages are wasted on needless dining, bathing, and travel scenes.

She shared a crucial piece of advice: “[O]utline your book, scene by scene, on individual note cards. If you’ve written the novel, then go through it and break it down into its individual building blocks.” Gardner uses these cards to physically map out her book on the floor, actually visualizing the flow of the novel.

Gardner concluded with a sad thought. “I don’t think The Perfect Husband would sell in today’s market,” she said. “It’s a publishing conundrum. They want perfect writers, but how can you be a perfect writer without a great editor?”

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