If you heard the screams early this evening, it was me! I finally finished the second major pass of the Maya fantasy, Night Sun Rising! (title subject to change)
I want to try and capture some of my feelings and thoughts here for later while the memory (horror) is still fresh in my mind.
When I say revision I don’t mean edits. In my mind, there’s a huge difference. Doing edits (for me) means I print the manuscript out and evaluate word choice, flow, sentence structure, inconsistencies, typos that I missed online, etc. Some sections might have considerable notes, but usually this stage doesn’t require massive rewrites. I may throw out one or two particularly bad or awkward scenes and rewrite, but not chapter after chapter.
A revision means rip apart and re-VISION the story. See it in a new light. Tackle it from a different angle. I did some cut and paste, but the order was fouled up. For example, in the first draft, I had Jaid’s father’s POV — and although I eliminated his POV in the second draft, there were some cool details of Xibalba that I wanted to include. I had to rip those sections out, change the POV entirely, and put them in a brand new place in the manuscript. Other sections (many!) I had to simply write from scratch all over again.
This wasn’t simple “edits” but a complete rewrite. Hands down, this was THE hardest revision I’ve ever done. There were a few contributing factors.
- NSR was my first NaNoWriMo novel (2007). So yeah, it was written fast, without a lot of prep work done in advance. However, I don’t write slop, not even to “win” NaNo. This was a solid draft with a beginning, middle and end. Yes, there were mistakes and dropped threads, etc. but I didn’t do dumb stuff like insert song lyrics just to hit my word count.
- My writing has matured a lot since 2007. Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of opening up a file and seeing nothing but an editor’s red (Track Changes) and comments on five (six counting this week) manuscripts! I say this honestly and not facetiously — I’ve learned an incredible amount from my editors, and learning is one of my all-time favorite things.
- Since it was a NaNo novel, I hadn’t done a light “edit” pass to fix sentence structure or fill any holes. Why bother, when I knew it was way too short and needed considerable work? So even if a section was “mostly” useable, I still had to make all the edits and clean-ups as I went. It will also need a hard copy pass, because I’m sure I missed a lot.
- The first draft was only just under 64K. This draft clocked in over 92K. I added two major subplots, each with new POVs. Whoever said they’d rather add than cut — I don’t quite agree. It’s really, really hard for me to add nearly 30K to a story to make it work.
- The “new” story threads took place in Texas (mostly near Dallas) and the other (existing) was in Guatemala. I had to time them so that in the climax, everything came together and made sense. Even though the showdowns happened in separate locations, they were connected.
- I changed genres from paranormal romance to romantic contemporary fantasy. The crux of the ending changed completely. I think it’s heartbreakingly romantic but not HEA. It’s definitely a cliffhanger. (No, I have no idea what happens in the next book.)
- One POV was eliminated; two were added.
- Nearly a dozen new characters were added, with brief histories, goals, etc. all preworked. I had a private WordPress blog for this information, because I couldn’t keep it straight on paper.
- A brand new antagonist entity was added.
- The plot was much more complex in the second draft, easily the most complex and complicated plot line I’ve written.
The biggest consideration, though, is definitely elapsed time. I started the revision in 2008 (June 12th according to my spreadsheet). I have a number of excuses: releases, another NaNoWriMo, illness, etc. but a lot of it was mental reluctance. This revision was SO HARD. I just didn’t wanna work on it sometimes. I’d much rather draft a new story from scratch that didn’t require so much work!
What’s really scary is that as hard as this revision was, RHP will be even harder.
RHP is my “Fast Draft” story from March, 2007. 50K+ written in 11 days. I’ve got an entire large 3-ring binder of notes and research and lists of things to try and fix…yet just thinking about beginning that revision makes me ill. It will make the Maya revision look like a walk in the park. It will be massively complicated by the genre: historical (Regency) fantasy. I’ve done tons of research. I own dozens of Jane Austen manners books, What Charles Dickens Ate, etc. I even read Passions (loooooved it).
Yet that story sits on a shelf because I’m intimidated by it. Well, guess what. I will face that fear, and soon. I know RHP will topple NSR from its place as hardest revision, but it’ll be worth it. I want to conquer the fear, and…well, I admit. RHP is likely the highest concept thing I’ve come up with. It’ll definitely be in my best interest to get cracking on it and soon, before something frighteningly similar comes out.
I thought the Maya story was high concept until Jessica Andersen’s Maya series came out.
And no, this won’t be the last post on “Revision Xibalba.” I’m still tinkering with the beginning, I have a list of things to go back and expand/tweak/fix, and a few [notes to myself] that require a bit of research. Then I’ll have a hardcopy pass to complete. Then, the Great Agent Hunt will commence once again.
Please send chocolate. I’m going to need it. And lots of red wine. Or is that whine?