Elwin’s Adventures in Revision

It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to write. A friend from out of town visited and stayed longer than expected (not that I’m complaining), so I haven’t had much free time until recently to really sit down and write. Thankfully, one of my Alpha Readers did get back to me with her suggestions for my piece, which has given me time to really hack into the editing and revision process.

So far, I’ve realized that that revision is more about ideas while editing is more about sentence structure, spelling, and those nasty grammatical errors. I’m most interested in revision at this point in time, though naming consistency is something that I really need to work on. Typos happen naturally, when you’re writing a four letter word like Asyr and accidentally type it as Aysr, but names need to be as consistent as ideas for the sake of immersion. Making sure my spelling of major names and locations is important, especially for a science fantasy political drama.

Banner Vir and Xe

Revision, though, is looking at the ideas you have and deciding that they need work. I really do like the basic premise of the first novel, and I feel like my plot is solid, but I want to heavily revise the first few chapters to make Virsune’s characterization more consistent with later chapters. I also feel like they need to better establish the world of the story — the conflict in this novel is mostly inside the protagonist and through verbal and emotional conflicts with the other characters. This isn’t an action novel, this is about subtle political machinations and a man’s perception of his own safety and self-worth, and a crisis of personal and national identity.

More than that, though, what I really need to do is breathe in life to the world and add depth. Narratively and in terms of characterization, I feel I’m fine. Solid, straightforward plots and three dimensional characters have always been my strength, but when it comes to adding concrete details about setting and the physical reality of my characters, I must admit to a certain weakness.

I don’t describe what my characters feel nearly enough, and I don’t define their setting as much as I should. For example, my protagonist has bad knees, both because he is in his 50s and because he has spent a lot of his life on his knees excavating. He also was something or a religious figure in his past, which means he should be bringing the words of the religion’s founder into his day to day interactions.

I need to get better at describing settings without bogging my plot down in details. Rereading, I realized that there is very little physical sense of what the world actually looks like. While I don’t want to dip into Tolkien-like levels of environmental description (as much as I admire Tolkien for his world building prowess), I really do need to focus on establishing a sense of physical reality to my world that doesn’t currently exist.

I hear a lot of people end up cutting word count in their revisions. From where I’m standing now, I can only imagine my word count increasing.

Hopefully I’ll meet my January deadline.

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