If there’s anything I know I absolutely need to do when revising a novel, it’s mulling things over. That’s the phase I’m currently in for Possession. (It’s the phase that comes after making long lists of things I want to keep, change, and improve, and before the phase where I’m jumping in there to actually make changes to the text.)
I always think this middle part should be quicker. I mean, I just have to decide what I want to do, how hard could it be? But I find I need some time for reflection, for poking at the story sideways and thinking about it as a whole. About the characters, about the stakes. About what I want to accomplish with the book. And I have to keep reminding myself that even if I’ve got nothing to show for all this thinking, I’m actually making progress here! Without this step, I wouldn’t know what changes to make, now would I? In fact, if I skipped it, I’d probably be making the wrong changes! Or unnecessary ones–that happened to my first book, where I replaced scenes that, looking back, were perfectly fine as they were, save for some copy-editing.
Things are starting to look good now, though, or at least I’ve seen the light at the end of the tunnel. Several Cool Improvements are in the works, and I’m reminded how much fun this book is! (Recap: Possession is my fantasy novel about the occupied desert city of Zier, where a captain of the city guard suffers a series of blackouts, committing crimes he doesn’t remember—crimes that risk exposing the resistance he’s secretly working for. The real culprit is a dying woman who uses black magic to possess his body, planning to live on as him. Needless to say, he wants to keep his body to himself. 🙂 Lots of complications ensue…)
There’s still quite a lot of planning work to be done before I can dive into the text with my machete. My fantasy novels have a lot of threads and characters that must all mesh together. What does each faction know at each point? What should they know for maximum excitement? Characters and plot lines can’t disappear for long stretches either, and it must all work together as a whole. And when I move things around, well, other things must be moved around also…
Basically, I’m laying the Big Revision Puzzle!
It’s a good thing I like puzzles. 🙂