Revising the Smart Way

This weekend I finally finished revising my novel Vengeance Will Come, book 1 of a series I’m calling Vortex of Darkness (for now). Vengeance is currently with my beta readers, who will simultaneously strengthen and wound me. (In lieu of your conservative applause I shall begin a new paragraph, thus marking the importance of the previous statement).

It took about a month and a half longer than I was expecting. I’d never revised a novel-length story before and so this was a new and challenging experience. Mustering up all my enthusiasm, baseless assumptions and bravado I attempted to edit everything in one-pass. I now identify that was mostly laziness speaking. (Somewhat understandably, I’ve been working on VWC for so long I’m ready to move on). In reality I probably did a fragmented two stage pass.

Trying to edit everything in one pass is just silly unless you’re superhuman. (I suspect this is true of even accomplished authors). The brain has limits and you can’t simultaneously check 15 different things at once. Attempting to do so resulted in me completely ignoring one thing, to hunt for another. It is better to do one thing well, one at a time, than do everything poorly. 

My editing efforts resulted in a 24% length cut which is pretty darn impressive. Especially when you factor in several thousand words of new text added. Hopefully the cut was a beneficial pruning of the story and not a ring-barking of quality.

vwc-final

I’ve given my beta readers two months to read and comment, so now I move onto revising my parallel-novel The Rebel Queen. Now that I’m experienced I think I can revise it in one pass. Just kidding.

In the interest of learning to do things smarter I’m changing my approach at revision.

Pass 1: Structure and plot

In this first pass I’m hoping to turn off my detailed scanners and be able to look at the story from a holistic approach. Asking myself:

  • Is the story progression logical? Are the chapters and scenes in the best order?
  • Does each scene move the plot forward or reveal something about the character?
  • Is the plot plausible? Is the plot cliche?
  • Are characters acting naturally, given the circumstances?
  • What ‘promises’ am I making to the reader? Am I fulfilling them?
  • Is the content engaging the reader?
  • Is it clear in each scene whose point-of-view it is from?

This already seems like possibly too many things to be looking out for in a single pass…

Time to jump in!

 

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