On Friday I finally got around to getting a printed copy of the latest draft of Flowers for Dionysus, my first novel. That was the fourth, and red-inking for the fifth has already begin. In fact, I will probably get to page 100 tonight at least.
Some interesting things have happened. I wanted to move some things around, and make a few sections leaner. I knew one way to do this was via an idea I had a few days ago; I’d actually add a bit more to the opening, so as to reveal more information more efficiently. I hesitated at first to do this, as the opening page or so of the novel had been in my head almost from the very first moment of inspiration. I’m not one who falls in love too deeply with every word I write, but that opening has felt for years like the opening it was meant to have. I didn’t think I’d ever change that.
Now, I’m on course to do that exact thing.
In the end, I had to admit to myself that it truly would open the door wider, and get the ball rolling faster than my original opening, though. So despite my somewhat sentimental attachment to the opening, I’ve made the notes in red ink to change it.
It’s not just some tightening up, either. The entire opening will be different. I’ll have to write a whole new scene with two of the characters, and tack it on to the existing opening. (Which will become chapter two.) The last few revisions have been mostly cosmetic and grammatical. Some polishing here and there. But when I start the fifth draft I will actually be revisiting the characters in a whole new way. It will be the biggest change, probably, since writing the draft that followed the rough draft.
Of course, that is some time away. I need to red-ink the whole novel before beginning to write the next draft. That’s how I roll with such things. Still, it’s an interesting place to be right now. To not only be changing something that has been a bit of a compass point for literally years, but to come to the realization that the new way is probably going to be better in several ways.
Funny how the opening didn’t seem like it could be improved upon in previous years of working on this novel. Yet sometimes you look at perfectly acceptable front door and decide the entire front of the house, or even the entire house will look better after a change. Not a demolition, mind you. Just a bit of remodeling.
So, I’ve laid the plans for a remodeling of the opening of the novel. We’ll see if once written it holds up. But I have at least several more weeks before I need to worry about it. You can bet, though, it will remain on my mind.
What’s the biggest change you ever made to a manuscript this late in the game?