Progress Report: Novel Number One
This month I will begin the fourth draft of my novel, Flowers for Dionysus. I have kept mental distance from it for the last few months since I finished the third draft, and sent it to a few test readers. (Most of whom have not progressed with it as quickly as I had been led to believe, but I digress.)
Whether my test readers meet their deadline or no, August is the time I had set aside to begin the next set of revisions, due by Christmas time. What will the revisions entail?
I think that this time around I will be concentrating on two things by and large. The first is making sure the characters are well drawn, and interesting to the reader. I believe they stand on their own right now quite well, but part of revisions is to make sure what seemed true before is still true. So I will be thinking particularly of how characters are introduced and presented throughout the piece. How they interact with one another. Determine if anything needs to be edited to make each one interesting as well as distinct from the others.
The second focus of this fourth set of revisions will be in sprucing up some language here and there. This isn’t intended to be literary fiction, and again I believe that as written the language works well for the story. Nonetheless I will keep an eye out for specific places that might benefit from an upgrade of some kind. I don’t much believe in formulas or lists when it comes to writing, but I may research what writers/editors feel are the most overused words in fiction today and see if I can, or even want to eliminate them from the piece.
To me, this piece is about characters and story. Which sounds obvious at first, but many writer oriented sites, articles, and message boards talk about the importance of spending all month on one paragraph until you are certain every single word will grab a reader by the throat, and make them desperate to read the next one. Advice about using “said” as a tag too often, or about using it exclusively. About never using a “to be” verb, or showing and not telling. Advice that will contradict itself if one reads at least three articles. These are significant aspects of writing in their own way, and I can’t say I will never obsess over them, but for the time being, if my story is clear and moves people, I don’t much care if I have a sentence in the passive voice, or 5% more adverbs than others would recommend. Stories matter, as I have always said here on TyUnglebower.com
So character and language spring cleaning are focuses of revision number four. I will of course keep my eyes open for any confusing sections, plot holes, or unneeded scenes, just as I have been for the first three revisions. I will correct anything glaring like that which I notice. But nuance will be the main focus for the first time in this set of revisions, as opposed to broad structural issues. It could be an interesting challenge.