Revision check-in: Time to Pivot

Like so many things, revision of a novel takes time. It takes time to read it through and think about the cohesion of it. It takes time to map out the plot arcs and try to match each chapter with its intent and pace. It takes time to review each scene for value and construction.

Revision is the real work of writing.

When we revise, we consider whether the work we’ve generated is adding value to the novel or simply a creator’s indulgence. A good editor can help mark scenes and passages for deletion, but a self-edit takes time.

person holding compass
Photo by Valentin Antonucci on

This year’s goal was to edit one piece per month, in the hopes that focusing on a single work would enable me to make real progress. But after 8 months, I’m still sitting on three incomplete novels and one finished one that’s under a serious overhaul.

The next steps are where I’ve stalled. What comes next?

The unfinished novels are all NaNoWriMo efforts that reached 50k words and then sat back waiting to be revised. Revision, I thought, would finish them.

We now have two months until the next NaNoWriMo and I’ve promised myself I cannot write a new manuscript until these are done.

So I’m suspending the revision resolution and focusing on getting these books to conclusion. That seems like the right next step. Just finish writing. How hard can it be?

The finished book has the best shot of being picked up by either agent or publisher and it’s ambitious and complex and needs an editor. But even an editor right now would have questions about consistencies and structure. So that book needs a revision plan. An hour a day to address a specific problem.

Here’s a list of the problems:

Delivery of the faith structure exposition. Who tells the reader about the brides and their covenants and how this forms the whole basis for vampire culture? When does that exposition arrive and how?

Progression of the Blue-Kate romance. A series of scenes wherein they get closer, the sexual encounters crafted to demonstrate that progression.

The secrets. Who has them? What are they? How does Blue figure them out?

I’ve already decided that the reader will know from the beginning that Blue is a time traveler and watch him, unaware of that knowledge, in Kansas. We already know he and Raven are separated at the end. The blog structure enables a Choose Your Own Adventure approach. But if readers actually do skip around in the book, each chapter or scene must be self-contained enough that it gives only what it needs to. For example, the brides exposition is key. It cannot be in a “skipped over” section if the reader chooses to begin the story in Geneva. And yet, if the reader reads straight through, we cannot repeat brides information.

Terribly complicated stuff.

But then maybe I’m overthinking it.

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