Friday, May 2, 2014

Daughter of the Wildings Revision Progress

With Sarya's Song out now, I'm finally able to turn my attention full-time to revising Daughter of the Wildings. Which makes me really happy: finally I get to start turning the first drafts I wrote into the books I want them to be!

I started out by analyzing the whole series, diagnosing problems with plot, worldbuilding, character development and stuff like that. This is a picture of my binder with the printout of Daughter of the Wildings when I first started that process.

So that took about three months, splitting my writing time with Sarya's Song. Then I just worked on Sarya's Song for about the next month and a half, getting it ready for release. Once Sarya's Song was out, I made the revision cards for Daughter of the Wildings. I make an index card for each scene as I want it to appear in the revised version of the novel, with a summary of the scene and its purpose in the story. On the back I list the major issues that need to be addressed in the revision of that scene. Then I color-code each card, to show an estimate of how much work each scene is going to need - up to 25% (green), 25%-50% (yellow), 50-75% (orange), and 75% to complete rewrite or new scene (pink). This stage was a lot faster than the analysis stage, and only took a couple of weeks. This is a picture of my lovely stack of DoW revision cards. You'll notice that many pads of Post-Its gave themselves to the cause, especially yellow and orange.

Once that was done, I got to start the fun part - actually marking up the manuscript. And here is where I really realized how much my initial ideas about the characters and the story changed from when I started Book 1 to when I finished Book 6. Usually, my estimates for how much work each scene needs are pretty accurate, but so far this revision has called for a lot more work than I thought it would. "Green" and "yellow" scenes, that I thought would need changes to less than half of the scene, have ended up completely obliterated with red ink.

Here's the first page of Book 1 of Daughter of the Wildings, with lovely red scribbles, scrawls, arrows, lots of words crossed out, and some blue ink where I changed something and then changed my mind about the change. And this page is pretty clean compared to a lot of the pages I've done since then. The numbers down the sides are references to my notes; I have hundreds of pages of notes and thousands of individual revision notes for this series.

The great thing about revising this way, analysis - plan - markup, is you discover all the issues with your manuscript and figure out what to do about them before you ever start in with the red pen, so that you don't get halfway through and then *forehead slap* realize that subplot isn't working or this character's development is way off. I'm still making changes to my plan as I go, but it's easy to go into my notes and update them. I still refer to my notes as I do the markup; the summaries on the cards give me an idea of the major changes that have to be made. I do those, then go back and check on the more detailed changes that I put in my notes. Half the time, those changes don't apply any more because I already re-wrote that whole section while making the big changes.

And so it goes. After a little more than a week of working on the markup and type-in, I'm about 1/3 through Book 1. This stage is going to take at least a couple of months; hopefully, it'll start going faster after Book 1 because I won't need to make as many major changes to bring the later books into consistency. (Real life issues, including a bad flare-up of my fatigue, also slowed things down over the last week or so.) In the meantime, I'm going to start scaring up some test readers, and I'm putting the lettering on the covers. Here's the prototype for the cover for Book 1 with the lettering. I kind of hate having to put lettering all over the gorgeous art, but if I have to, I think this is kind of cool. I'm open to feedback, though. Cool, or not?

Also, I haven't had the reveal for the cover art for Book 6 yet, so watch for that in a week or so!

I revise using the method taught in Holly Lisle's How To Revise Your Novel online course. That's my affiliate link, and I'm an affiliate for that course and recommend it every chance I get because if you want to publish your writing, whether self or traditional, it's the best $250 you can spend on your writing.)

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