Now the hard work begins. Now, I’m coming down off the high of the positive remarks about my novel excerpt and beginning the revision of the first draft. I have the workshop instructor’s marked-up copy, plus my notes from our one-on-one conference, plus the comments from my fellow workshoppers, and those will be a big help, but revising is the hardest work of all.
Since the key to any good work of fiction is to get the reader to turn the page, the extraneous dreck has to go. I think Fred Leebron’s words will have to become a mantra for revising: “The first draft is for the characters; the final is for the reader.”
So, here’s my process. The first revision is a re-type of the MS, editing as I go. Then, I’ll put it aside for a couple of weeks to get it out of my head. Next, I’ll print out a double-spaced copy and do a physical line-edit. (I’m old school; I still need to have a hard-copy version and a red pen.) While doing the line-edit is when I’ll read the MS aloud, and it’s amazing what you find when you hear your words spoken. Once I incorporate the changes from the line-edit, I’ll either pass the MS through my critique group or have a couple of folks from the workshop review it. Finally, it’ll be off to the workshop instructor for review, and then the process will probably start all over again; but that’s the writing life.
Another hard part of the hard part is that for the next several months I’ll be focused on this MS alone, and I know I’ll miss working on the Mai/Alexei novels. I’ll still be doing Spy Flash stories, but delving into my world of spies and intrigue will have to take a back seat for a while.
And I’ll always have Friday Fictioneers! I know I’ve praised this exercise before, but it has allowed me to delve into genres I thought were beyond me–sci-fi, fantasy, horror. Today is one of those times, even though it’s a fairly straight-forward photo prompt: a soldier standing guard. What you don’t see is what the soldier guards, and that’s what got my imagination going–and you get, “The Unknown Soldier.”
As usual, if you don’t see the link on the story title above, scroll to the top of this page, click on the Friday Fictioneers tab, then select the story from the drop-down list.