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Monday, May 11, 2009

Revision 3 - Pervasive Changes

One week in. How is the revision going? Overall, I've dealt with the easy issues. The first six chapters are much leaner, much cleaner, much clearer. I've cut out some 2500 words in a fairly painless fashion.

Now I just have to move forward on the linear review, tightening and weaving in the more pervasive changes.

Here are some examples of things I'm keeping in mind.

1. Characters At one point a character we've met only peripherally turns up dead. The implications of the death are huge. In order for this event to carry the weight that it should, readers really need to have a better handle on who this person is. My solution? Rewrite a scene in chapter 3, involving this character instead of the person who was formerly involved. Also, keep this character in mind as I read through the book and look for further opportunities to involve the person, at least enough to keep his or her identity clear in the reader's mind.

2. Worldbuilding Mages are very much resented in this world. Not only do their magics not work reliably, but "licensed" mages have a stranglehold on magical practice and do their best to eliminate the competition of small practitioners, old grannies and hedge-uncles who work magic by instinct. By the time I got to the end I realized I had not demonstrated this until somewhere around the middle of the book. I need to look for opportunities to drop in little tidbits to make this clear.

3. Dropped Threads My investigator/sorcerer Dante purposefully lets it be known that he possesses a particular set of unsavory skills. By the end I discovered that I had sort of lost that thread in the story. I know he is pursuing it, but the reader might not, and it will be extremely important in The Soul Mirror. I need to keep this near the surface of the reader's mind.

4. Clarifications One of the first things a student of sorcery learns is how to sense enchantments. There are three states that are very different: those spells that are bound and waiting to be triggered, enchantments that are active, and the residue left by enchantments that are finished. As these are essential forensic skills for our investigators, I need to make clear the difference in these three states.

I have about ten more issues, and seem to be adding items to the list faster than I'm taking them off.

Next up - the very best thing about revision. The insights that come once you get so totally immersed in the story as a whole. And yes, I had one. I'll have to figure out how to describe it without giving anything away.


Sarah said...

This post is the one that more intrigued me about this story. I love the flavour of mixed magic and science, and once you said this world is much like the Renaissance era. Well, I happen to love Renaissance - I’m Italian, after all ;-)

Sometimes I think redrafting is the most wonderful part of writing. For me is not the hardest part, that is the writing down of the idea. Redrafting is hard, no doubt, but it's also, somehow, more rewarding.
I love when the story come to the page, when things happen and you’ve never planned them, when characters take a life of their own. It’s exciting.
But redrafting it’s what makes you feel that you really have a story. It’s when things really add up, when everything comes together and you can finally see that IT WORKS. Of course you have that feeling when you’re writing (otherwise, I just drop the idea), but redrafting, you can actually SEE it. It’s fantastic.

Well, I’ve talked a lot. I just wanted to say, good work… and enjoy! ;-)


carolwriter said...

Sarah, you have totally captured my thoughts on the subject!