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Rewrites and Revision – The Challenge Has Begun

August 10, 2011

To say that revisiting and changing something you labored on for a month is a frustrating process would be a gross understatement. Just ask any of the authors I’ve linked to on the left. Holly Lisle in particular has a lot to say on the subject. She even teaches a five-month online course on revising your novel.

Taking her course might be a good idea for me, but somewhere I got it in my head that I’m going to try to finish rewriting and revising my novel into something that is worth handing to a professional editor by the end of October. Is this a reasonable goal? I have no idea.

I do know that successful novelists have written complete and perfectly publishable novels in less time. I may not yet have the skills for such an endeavor, but I am sure that trying to revise my novel myself, without relying on a structured course, will teach me a great deal about myself and my own creative process. So even if I fail I will still come away from this experience with something.

So, what big changes am I making?

For starters, there’s structure. My story could use some. It will also need to be at least twice as long as it is now to even be considered by most sci-fi and fantasy publishers.

I’ve begun to write outlines of the chapters, which will follow a different structure than they do now. There will also most likely be a prologue.

Want to see a sample of some of the changes I’m making? Of course you do! Here’s how the prologue begins:

Krem crept up the hill to the overlook in the dark of the pre-dawn, followed by his companions. Winter’s wet chill lingered in the night air, but the sky was cloudless. Krem could could make out the silhouette of Bertran in the starlight, waving them on from near the top of the hill.

The plan was the same as it had been for the last battle. Krem and his fellows would arrive just in time for the battle to begin, find themselves a decent vantage point to watch the chaos from a suitably safe distance away, then loot the bodies in the aftermath and be gone before too much notice was taken of them. The key was to grab the goods before the victorious side had a chance to bind their wounds and claim the bodies of either side, and before other scavengers and camp followers could stake their claims. At least, that was the plan that had worked for them before.

If you’ve read my novel, you might realize that a chunk of that second paragraph comes from chapter 1. Some bits of the original chapter 1 are being shifted to the prologue. One of the criticisms I received on the story from my friends that have read it is that the real story (and action) starts too slowly. I think they’re right. It’s going to be re-written to condense the exposition and get to the awesome. Dassara (the main female character) is also going to appear sooner.

Here’s a list of a few elements that I’m strongly considering adding:

  • The father of Dassara’s child is going to show up. Very possibly at the beginning of chapter 2. He will also be chasing Dassara, for reasons of his own.
  • Krem will attempt to use sorcery to solve a problem, and in doing so will discover that there is a tangible, and often inescapable price to be paid for calling on power that doesn’t belong to you.
  • There needs to be more of Captain Sparn, and his foibles in trying to catch up to the main characters. Probably intersecting with Dassara’s former lover at various points. (There’s a lot to be learned about storytelling from “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World”.)
  • More flashbacks to Dassara’s relationship with Anna/Black Alice and her former lover. This may tie into the next element.
  • Dassara’s dreams turn out to be prophetic.
  • Sexual tension. Possibly between Krem and Dassara. (Actually not sure how I feel about adding this one, but several people have said they want to see more happen between the two of them. We’ll have to see…)

I have begun writing additional chapters, but they aren’t yet fleshed out enough yet. When they are, the material should help me rearrange the old material around it. The new stuff should also help me figure out what I want to delete, but that should be the last step of the process.

Looks like my work is cut out for me!

Note: I’m playing around with the scheduler to have my posts published at particular times. Let’s see how well it works.

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