A few weeks ago, I finally finished my novel revision and sent it to my agent for her review. This revision had been in progress for five months, and it felt just wonderful to have it done. I’m sure the manuscript is not perfect yet, but I do think it’s better than it was before. I know I am a better writer and editor for having made it through yet another revision.
A couple of things I learned along the way:
– I need a couple of weeks to digest editorial notes before I can make good use of them. I might want to dive right in, but I know I’ll end up stuck if I don’t let my mind work on them under the surface for long enough.
– Once I’m ready to revise, I do better with a couple of days of intense work than taking little—even two-hour—chunks here and there. I am of little use to my family on those days, but I’m also of little use when I know what I need to do and can only find bits and pieces of time to try to make it happen.
– I need to outline better on future projects—and that doesn’t just mean plot. There’s another post on this coming soon.
– Good dialogue can be the key to making a novel readable. I wrote a lot of dialogue earlier on, while I was trying to get to know my characters. I rewrote a good deal of it this time around, once I had a stronger idea of my characters, and I think—I hope!—it’s less stilted and more natural.
– Humor written in a first draft that is not still funny in a sixth draft needs to go.
– If good dialogue is the key to making a novel readable, then back story is the key to making a novel drag. Having edited this novel for a year and a half, most of what I wanted to say in exposition now also exits in characters’ words and actions, which is proof that the exposition needed to get booted. The delete key and I got very close in this round.
This draft may or may not be ready to go out on submission. If it does go out, there’s no guarantee it will be published. I can honestly say that either way, it has been worthwhile. I had such fun fitting the pieces together, solving problems, and creating this story.
If you’re going to spend the time it takes to write and edit a novel, you’d better enjoy it, I think. And I certainly did!