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Revision Hell Begins

I stand at the formidable wrought-iron gates leading beneath the Mountain.  I’ve delayed too long already.  This novel has been complete for a year, just waiting for me to find the time — and courage — to enter into…  da da DUM ….

Revision Hell.

Okay, in all seriousness, this particular Revision Hell won’t be as bad as I’m making it sound.  I have a very solid and detailed (105K) first draft prepared.  It’s the third in a trilogy so I’d darned well better know my characters and my world right now.  Just as there are Nine Circles of Hell in Dante’s Inferno, there are various layers to Revision Hell, too.  For this particular work, I already know I have the following challenges to resolve:

1. A few scene holes, where I knew what happened but just wasn’t feeling it.  One is a fight scene, one was a potential sex scene that may be cut (e.g. if I didn’t need it written to finish the story, then maybe I don’t really need it!!)

2. A few wrong turns and rambling paths.  Even in a well-plotted story, it’s easy to write a scene and then later realize that maybe it wasn’t the best option.  I have that problem with a few scenes, in particular  with one  character, Jorah.  I don’t need them, they add nothing to the main plot of the story, and trivialize his character into a LKH stock character, which is not what I want.

3. Dropped threads. It’s like sending your character off with a backpack and then realizing she dropped it somewhere along the way — or needed it and I had no idea where it was.  (Inside joke: this happened with Isabella in Beautiful Death.)  For Return, where is Wind?  Sadly, I thought nothing of this special horse character until the very end, when I realized I had a way to make the ending incredibly powerful, but I had no idea what had happened to her.

4. Texture. This is a tough one for me, because I can add details, emotion, and worldbuilding all day long, and I’ve already got a 105K story.  However, there are a few scenes/details I’ve been thinking about the past few months that could really add depth and heart to the story, and in the end, that’s exactly what this story is about.  The heart.

I’ll post revision tricks as I think of them this month and next, since I have two full-length manuscripts to revise and kick out of the nest.  For now, this dark road descending beneath the Mountain requires a key to pass the gates, and that key, is a read-through.

  • Grab a notebook and pen and make notes as you go, recording page number or simply adding a comment in the Word file.
  • Since these revisions aren’t massive, I’m going to save time and smooth sentences and polish as I go.  This won’t be the final pass, but it’s like sanding a plank with the first, rougher grade sand paper.
  • Note all research items and find those answers.  For this story, that means I need to dig through Rose and Road looking for forgotten character names or places, etc.  I don’t have a series bible for this story — it’s all in my head.  Or not, in this case.

My MUST DO goal for this week then becomes:

  • Revise the first 100 pages

10 thoughts on “Revision Hell Begins

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by joelysue, Nadia Lee. Nadia Lee said: RT @joelysue New post: Revision Hell Begins […]

  2. 🙂 I love your blog, website, stories, etc! You are definitely an inspiration! I am writing a comment this morning, because I am in REVISION HELL and the book isn’t finished! Is this normal? I am a new fiction writer (old technical writer), and am accustomed to revising as I write in “my other life”. Is this normal or detrimental to my book? Thanks!

  3. Hi, Deb, thank you so much for stopping by and commenting!

    Every writer’s process is going to be different. If you’re happy with your progress and comfortable revising as you go, then great. I do this too, especially if I’m posting snippets on the blog. Sometimes I read the last few pages from the previous day and edit them before beginning. Usually, though, I’m writing too fast to stop and revise too many pages at a time.

    One thing to watch out for, though, is when you delay finishing the book. If editing as you go is your process and you have forward momentum, great. If you begin to use editing the completed pages to AVOID FINISHING THE BOOK, then I would stop and make yourself just finish.

    If you never finish the book, you don’t need the first half revised, no matter how much it sparkles.

  4. 🙁 Thank you for the advice! I will try to curb my revisions and finish…it isn’t supposed to be perfect the first time through…sigh…Thanks again for the inspiration!

  5. 😎 Ah, Revision Hell, can’t wait to start on that gloriously trying trail one day.

    Till then, I’ll just cheer you on. :mrgreen: Go Joely, go!

  6. Social comments and analytics for this post…

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  7. Funny though it seems, I kinda like Revision Hell… 😳

    For me, though, a thorough revision pass isn’t done on anything but a printed page. I always miss things on the screen, no matter how many times I read through it. Plus, I like seeing the blood – I mean red ink – flow… 😆

  8. I’m here too. Hey! We should do something with this heat…bake some cookies or something. seriously, I’m trying to put a kibbosh on the pages as fast as I possibly can.

  9. Thanks, Soleil! Your cheers always help! And once you finish Dirge, you’ll be right here with me!

    Nicole, I like revisions too (shhhhh, don’t tell) for the most part. I’m hoping this one won’t be too bad at all. I do work from printed copy too, especially for extensive revisions (with sticky notes). Since this is already a massively long story (105K) I’m too cheap to print it unless I just need to prior to the final pass.

    Hey, Monica, definitely, we should make use of the incredible heat and stone to bake cookies or pizzas! Now I’m hungry. Good luck with your pages!

  10. You’re welcome, Deb! If editing as you write works for you, then by all means do so. Do whatever you have to do to finish the book!

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