First Revision Pass

I want to get one of those project progress bar widgets (I don’t know if that’s actually what it’s called) for my website. Brandon Sanderson has one so his fans can see what he’s up to, but I want it just for me.

This is on my mind because I’ve almost completed the first of what will likely be three revision passes on my current novel project, tentatively titled Convoy. This first pass is primarily to address plot holes, make big changes, and make sure that my characters’ dialogue all sounds like them, though I can’t help but tweak awkward lines and rephrase stuff that I happen to notice (and anything my writing partner has pointed out). The amazing thing for me is how much fun this first revision pass has been. I finished writing the draft just under two months ago, and not to pat myself on the back, but I’d forgotten some of my main protagonist’s dialogue – and I love it. Reading through it actually brought a smile to my face – he’s such a sardonic, sarcastic, but kind-hearted old bastard, and quite possibly my favorite character that I’ve ever written.

Needless to say, refining the novel has been way more fun than I expected, so far. Catching callbacks to previous events that don’t quite line up, making a note and then matching things up is actually really cool. And it’s challenging me to think very carefully about my plot – does it actually make sense for Character X to do that? If the story were to veer in this direction instead, would that be better? Thanks to advice from writers like Gabrielle Harbowy and Marie Bilodeau, I’m paying particular attention to the promises I’ve made to my readers, and carefully considering if I’ve provided enough information to fulfill that promise – while still leaving some things unanswered, of course, a la the Abrams Mystery Box. Editing my previous short stories has never been as engaging as this, probably because in a short story there’s less to worry about. For the first time, I feel certain that novel writing is what I primarily want to focus on – especially if I luck out and get the chance to stick with the world of Convoy for more than one novel.

Of course, there’s a fair bit of work still to be done. The second revision pass is going to be primarily description – I noticed my first draft is light on scenery and certain specifics about the world around my characters, so I need to decide how much more the novel needs, to really immerse the reader. Then the final pass will be specifically for stylistics – tightening up the language, getting rid of squishy words, and so on. And then I’ll be ready to hand it off to some trusty beta readers, tweak anything that they point out, and move on to the most frightening step of all: trying to find a publisher.

Given all this, I really want that progress bar on my website. But revamping my little Internet home is a project for another day, when I feel comfortable allotting some time to it. For now, it’s back to the revisions.



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