Slapping on another layer of paint

As I sit here, sipping my second mug of coffee for the day, trying to figure out how to get my 750-year-old protagonist away from the henchman who is built like a professional wrestler and wielding a magical stun gun, I thought I’d make a few notes about the process for revising this new/old book of mine.

Since I’m working off an old version of the book, one with an ending I really liked but a middle that needed work, this revising process has been one of many, many iterations. I know, I hate that word, but it fits this process — repeatedly going over and over each chapter, fixing more stuff with each pass.

Usually the passes go like this:

  • Change the voice from third person to first person (this is the easiest part, but you still have to read closely so you don’t have dumb errors like “I felt his heart skip a beat,” etc.)
  • Fix any references to magic (my old version had more black and white good guys versus bad guys — the “Hand” and the “Fist” — I think my new version is better)
  • Add new stuff (I’m doing a LOT of that here in the middle section! It’s fun, but tricky keeping all the old and new plot lines straight)
  • Incorporate themes (it’s easy to pick up patterns and add characterization when you’re reading the same chapter for the umpteenth time)
  • Fix the “blocking” and staging and setting details (where is he standing? why is he over there? how did she sort of disappear in that scene?)
  • Give each character a complete story arc (make sure Kelley and Archie and Jimbo and Maria have been significantly changed by the end of the book)
  • Tweak and improve the language (right down to word choice)

Finally, I need to read through the whole thing again, from start to finish — maybe all in one weekend, in a marathon reading session (and I’m a painfully SLOW reader). That way I can see all the glaring errors, if any are left, and get the big picture just like a reader would.

I’m really hoping I’ll be done by the middle or end of July. I’m currently revising about 3 chapters a week, and I’m on chapter 14 of 23 or 24 total chapters. I think I can make that work.

And now, maybe I can find some mojo for my ancient protagonist to get him out of his latest dilemma… Later!

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