Thursday, April 11, 2024

Step one: reread

I've never revised my creative writing. Not in any meaningful way, anyway. In the past I'd finish a manuscript, print it out, and stick it in a binder, never to be seen again. But with my latest, I'm excited to revise. There are sections I want to tighten up, foreshadowing to enhance, and extraneous scenes to cut. But, I have no idea what I'm doing, and I'm a little nervous. What if I take the manuscript out and absolute hate it? What if I find the whole thing boring? What if the necessary revisions are too daunting?

Following generally accepted writing advice, I put the manuscript aside for three months and began rereading it in March. And I can say, with relief and amazement, I've actually had a good time.

My plan was to read without making any notes, just to experience the story. But I couldn't resist; within the first few pages I had a pencil in hand and was making notes.
In a way, it felt like reading a novel I didn't even write. I found myself irked by cliffhangers (which was funny, since I knew what was coming) and caught up in the conflict. I loved getting to know the characters again through fresh eyes.

Now that I've finished the first reread, I'm actually really, really excited to get back into the document to do some rewriting. I do think there's a lot of work to be done, but the first draft was...not bad. There were some scenes I struggled to write and so I assumed they'd drag on and be slow to read, but I think I managed to mostly avoid the "saggy middle" I've worried so much about.
The biggest changes are going to be reworking the beginning of the novel to match the tone and resolution at the end. Since I'm a pantser (I don't outline or plan my stories until I'm about halfway through), my beginnings don't always match my endings. There are some important themes that I began to develop in later chapters that need to be set up in early chapters. 

This has been a new experience for me, and it's been fun! 
So this is step one; step two will be actually applying the changes I've noted in the manuscript. Whatever comes next depends on what I decide to do with this novel. I like the idea of having a print copy that looks like a book that I can keep on a shelf, but if I'm going to go through the trouble of formatting the book, getting a cover, and having it printed, I might as well consider self-publishing.

But if I'm going to self-publish, maybe it would be fun to query and see if there's a market for this thing. (I can hear my author-friends laughing. Querying isn't generally considered fun.) 

There's a lot to think about as far as all that goes. Do I want to put the effort into finding beta readers, doing multiple rewrites, spending the time and money? Would I be happy self-publishing a novel that's good enough but not outstanding? And on that note, would I be happy with a self-published book that no one ever discovers, or would I want to do the work of marketing? I'll admit, I do get a happy little thrill at the idea of even one stranger buying my book.
All that can wait, though. For now, I'm going to focus on including writing time in my monthly calendar again so I can work through my revisions. Then, I'll go from there.


1 comment:

  1. Amazing to see your growth--just the idea of putting yourself out there is so brave. Keep up the momentum!