Friday, September 14, 2012

Revising the Revisions

Oh, man, do I have a lot to learn about storytelling.

No kidding. I'm still revising The Cold Distance, my SF/Space Opera novel that first came to life during NaNoWriMo 2011. One might ask why I would continue revising it this far into the year.

Good question. The reason I'm still after this book is that it's good. I'm not the only one who thinks so, either. People I trust are telling me that there's an awful lot to like about it and as I keep going back (I'm in an official Second Revision, which will equate to a Third Draft when it's done) I find more and more things that I can add that will give the story more depth. I'm still between 110,000 and 120,000 words, which is a good target length for a first novel, I think, so I haven't gone too far.

The big thing about this revision is that I've had to take out four chapters, add information to the new first three and then write a completely new fourth chapter. Does that sound like a lot of work?

Well, it is. Trust me.

Since I'm not a full-time writer and there are household chores and other things that pull my attention away it's taking a LOT longer than I want it to in order to get this book in shape. Not an excuse, not a complaint, just a statement that yes, I could spend a lot more time on the book than I am but then things in the house or at the day job will suffer. I can't afford either of those things to happen so writing comes in third sometimes.

And despite that, my enthusiasm for the book is undiminished. That's the real point of this post, I suppose. I still love this book. I think it's the best thing I've written of any length over 10,000 words.

But what I'm learning has to do with things like inserting humor appropriately, showing that my main character is a real person who reacts in ostensibly real ways for particularly real story reasons. It's about building strong relationships on better foundations and answering a central story question that drives the entire book. (More about that on Monday.)

Every day I work on the book, the more enthusiastic I am about it. The more I want to spend time whipping it into shape and get it ready to put out on the street. I know where I want to send it, too. I know what this book is capable of being.

So I'm not giving up on this one. I've got three other NaNovels that are Trunked for the time being so I know good from bad. I hope. And I've got ideas for the next book, too. There's a short story I wrote in the world of this novel that could possibly be a nice bridge between the two even though the books, on the surface anyway, don't appear to be related. And they're not related to a third book that I have started but probably needs to be re-written from scratch.

As I learn what's making The Cold Distance a better book, I am going to be a better writer for it. Writing a novel is hard work. It's not just sitting down and typing away like a monkey. It's thought and consideration and study of what works in other books and stories. And recognizing when a story is good and deserves more attention to make it better.

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