I talk a lot about how much I enjoy the novel revision process. And I really do. I love building the story up and out and working in the detail, weaving the strands together, making them sing. As with nailing a well-tuned harmony, there’s a thrill in getting it right.
But… sometimes it can be mind-bending. Like when your ideas multiply (up and out and…) and suddenly the first part of the novel is about twice as long as you intended.
And… like when you’ve worked that opening section so it’s singing (mostly), but all those tweaks and improvements mean cascading changes to everything that comes next.
This is, of course, where I’m at now. I set out to revise the first draft of this novel I’ve been working on, confident it was in reasonable shape (although there was a lot I wanted to do with it). And so I made a few notes and set about sharpening and fixing and editing the opening section. I wrote a lot of new scenes. Deleted a lot too. Layered in many of the things missing from the first draft. Made it better.
The major turning point at the end of the section remained the same… oh, wait. Not quite. There was one key difference. But even that doesn’t affect what comes next in any large way. Nothing in and of itself was a major change in terms of events unfolding. And yet, somehow everything is different.
The first section was the easy part.
Now I’m contemplating the next section — the middle section. Even though I’ve laid a first draft down, there is still so much to explore and discover (and change), it’s hard to know where to start. Hang the ‘kid in a lolly shop’ (that’s candy store for the uninitiated). It’s ‘Ellen hits London’ for the first time. (Only it’s not, er, London, it’s this cool city I’ve made up…)
One of the hardest things for me is judging what is good enough to stay and what gets revised/revamped/re-envisaged. Surely everything can be improved? I invariably can think of a new and better way of doing everything…
And then there’s the length problem. There’s so much I want to add into this middle section, does this mean I should cut my losses now and split what was meant to be one book into two? It’s a conundrum. (For the moment, I’m not taking that option. I’ll just have to rein it in somehow.)
But yay me for getting to the end of the first section! There are few minor tweaks to go back and make and then it’s onwards with the next bit. Which is going to get bigger and bigger and bigger. And hopefully better.
PS – This was supposed to be a Sunday Journal post, but turns out I couldn’t watch half a season of Veronica Mars and write at the same time, so… Here we are.