Writing the first draft of my novel was fun. I cannot say that it was hard to write it at all. That is not to say that the story just flowed onto the screen. I struggled over sections and got stuck in plot dead-ends. Certain parts didn't work quite right; I wasn't happy with them and not sure how to fix them. But I was happy to sit down to the story and write. Finding enough time to commit to writing was the only hard part (busy life, blah, blah, blah).
But for a year now, I have been in limbo, avoiding getting started on revising. (Moreover, I haven't let myself start writing something else either, knowing that is one of the tricky strategies my procrastinator self uses to get out of things -- like REVISING.)
In November, I began to recognize that some aspects of the manuscript needed work, thanks to a brief but helpful critique from Robert Ray. Although I have read many inspirational books on writing in the past, I began to seek out nuts-and-bolts writing books and websites. I have been reading about plot, subplots, character arcs, back story, building suspense, and so on. And I am finally getting down to working on the revisions.
Here is the good news.
- I have a complex, layered story.
- I have a good character arc for my protagonist that starts on page one and runs through to the last sentence.
- My main antagonist is well-rounded with a good character arc (although his exit still needs a bit of work).
- I have tension-building secrets and multiple subplots.
- I have a three act structure (with a twist).
- I have made good use of different character POVs and differentiated the characters' voices.
- Much of the first half of Act 1 takes place inside the main protagonist's head.
- By having my protagonist recount, remember, and think about things, I am telling rather than showing, and it is sloooowwww.
- I need action, dialogue, and conflict (not just angst)
- In many sections (e.g., the opening), the ms. lacks vivid word pictures to place the characters in the setting and show what they look like and what they are doing.
- My protagonist's core motivation is not clear.
- I have far too many flashbacks and have fallen prey to the dreaded info-dump
But at least now I have a better grasp of the task that I face, my revision objectives, and some tools to work with.
Ah, revision. It actually feels better to have finally started revising (even though there are way more troubles than I initially thought, which is as depressing as hell) than it felt to be: a) fooling myself that hardly any revisions were needed (blush); b) realizing that some revisions were needed but avoiding getting started on them; c) in despair that the entire manuscript was unsalvageable; and then d) wanting to revise but having no idea what to do and how.