When I first starting revising my novel, I thought it would be easy. Nobody told me it would be like swimming in shark-infested waters with only a life jacket and water goggles.
I’ve been revising my novel for the past few weeks and to say it’s driving me insane would be an understatement. I feel like my mind has been squeezed like a washcloth and passed through a cheese grater. As draining as this process can be, I’m starting to see a sliver of light at the end of the tunnel, a shining speck of hope of this novel’s potential. It’s been treacherous, but thanks to the guidance of a few friends, I know the proper steps to take on this journey.
I locked my first draft away in a deep dark drawer to rest for 90 days. At the end of its sentence, I freed it from its prison and reviewed the crimes committed. By the way, if my prison jargon has lost you – I put my novel away to rest and painstakingly read it from cover to cover. But it wasn’t easy. There were way too many instances where I asked myself “Who in God’s name wrote this? ‘Cause I sure didn’t. Not me, nope!” It’s common knowledge that 99.99% of all first drafts are terrible, and mine is no exception. The words are confusing, sometimes the information on page 9 doesn’t match on page 34, even the protagonist’s hair somehow changed from gold to chestnut-colored. My eyes were wide and my mouth hung open at these startling issues. How would I clean this mess? Would I need insurance? How about a genie and a magic lamp? After an hour-long panic attack, I took a deep breath when the answer fell from the sky.
Revising is about structure first, and then details second. The key is to address all issues with story structure and the basic components of every tale. One website in particular says to write a one sentence summary of the story, so I tried. And… I failed. My novel has many great ideas, but no real substance to rely on. But not to worry, the author of the website assured me that everything would be okay and told me how to fix the issues. Since then, I’ve created a list about the novel, things that need to happen, characters, and what’s at stake. I’ve completed the list and now I finally have a list of what will make this a respectable novel. I just have to place certain key events in chronological order, and then I’ll begin my rewrites. It’s an exciting prospect to see what the novel will look like once the dust has cleared.
There are still many drafts/edits to do, but one day this story will grow up and be something. They say that the final draft bears as much resemblance to the first draft as the tree to the seed. If that’s the case, then it looks like I’m on the right track to completion and (hopefully) one day sharing this story with you.