e_moon60 (e_moon60) wrote,

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Nose to the Grindstone: Revisions

Since my copy edits aren't here to work on, I've been working instead on the structural revision of the new new book, which for shortness I may call Nameless I because it has no title.  (Nameless II has also begun, mostly as short bits that haven't gathered momentum yet.)

As usual, the main structure seems to be holding together, but there are difficult bits that haven't found their place, and odd gaps that pretty much mark out where a plot-bomb landed on what I was doing and sent me racing off to collect the fragments and stuff them in.   I have pried one foot-bone out from between the story-skeleton's ribs and have it sitting on one side, until I know for sure which foot it belongs to.  The unidentified bone fragment somewhere in the middle is also on one side until I find the other half? third? two-thirds?   I have attached the unattached tendons that were flopping around so that the plot-muscles they were meant to move weren't moving.  (You can't have a meaningful artefact  taken only *partway* to the person for whom it has the most meaning and then have the response as if it had arrived...)

There are oddities: for instance, a chapter I wrote to get inside the head of a character who is a plot-driver but offstage....like Cardinal Richelieu in The Three Musketeers, hardly seen but always felt.    But I need to know why he's doing what he's doing, and the only way (for me--I'm that kind of writer)  to know that is to get in his POV long enough to understand him. Still--does it belong in the book proper?   Writer-ego says "But it's a beautifully written chapter" and Writer-editor says "But does the reader really need to know this about this character at this time to feel the building menace?"   Not settled yet.   Need to get all the rest straightened out.  If it belongs, the right space will open up into which it fits.  If it doesn't...well, it won't be the first unnecessary and discarded chunk I ever wrote.

Other chores undertaken yesterday include making sure that every POV has its own chapter (editor preference) and then changing the (now incorrect) chapter titles to reflect that.  Final chapter numbers will come with the final version.   This isn't the final level of revision by any means, but if I see an incomplete or garbled sentence, I'll fix it on the fly.  Still knowing the whole sentence might disappear in the next stage.

I tend to work in threes: three major levels of revision, three passes within each level.  So this first pass on structural hopes to locate all the bony parts and get them more or less lined up where they go.  Second pass requires a printout on which I can jot things down and fastens the bones in place, tagging motivational connections.  It should produce an outline (after the fact, the only way I can produce an outline.)   Third pass is usually a breeze, but occasionally I find I've forgotten something that belongs in, or allowed something that doesn't to stay on the table. 

Back to work now.

Tags: the writing life
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