Tuesday, June 28

A first novel: Beginning revisions

It came a week later than I had planned, but I have returned to my novel and begun revisions. With a draft complete from beginning to end and five weeks of distance and perspective, I have a better understanding of it. A title still eludes me, but I know the characters better and what they want and why and what they will do for it. I know what the novel is about. I know where I want to take it and where not.

I would not call these major changes. They are more refinements of ideas that were already in place from the onset and toyed with throughout the draft than a wholesale rejection of my first thoughts. I do not think that they will require massive rewrites, but it troubles me that the changes I have made so far are so minor. Except for bringing back the original paragraph which sets the narrator’s voice as one telling the story some decades later rather than in the moment, I have done little more than shift around a few words and delete some sentences.

I know this first draft is not good. I wrote more than a few sections in a rush to finish or to fill space or late at night when I only wanted to sleep. I know it needs work, but the work it needs is more significant than I am currently doing. The trouble is gaining the right perspective. Right now I am revising on too fine of a level, making things work where they are now instead of putting them where they would work better. To make an analogy with carpentry, I have gathered all of the lumber I need and have drawn up the plans but am sanding the wood when I should be joining the pieces together and reinforcing them.

I do not know yet how I can do that. For now I think that I will just push through, try to knock things into place better, expand a few sections that need it and delete the parts where the characters do not act true to themselves and the voice is inconsistent. When this draft is done, my plan is to print it and make handwritten notes and changes. When I can flip between pages and sections more easily, maybe I will have a better perspective on where to join and reinforce the sections. We’ll see.

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