Friday, April 23, 2010

More on Revision

More on Revision

love_on_the_square Or is that Moron Revision? Anyways, as usual, I’m now five months into my revision of Steam Palace. I’m now at the point where I’m in a full rewrite and done with all the endless analysis. So much stuff is changing that it’s hard to keep up. I now have to figure how twins were separated at birth. D’ohh!
I’m trying to avoid getting sucked into the Evil Twin meme. Even though the twins grow up on the opposite side of the tracks, I don’t want one to be the polar opposite of the other.  And then there’s the so-called love triangle, where my MC is marrying one guy but is in love with another. Well that damn twin messes everything up, because she loves the guy the MC is supposed to marry, but then gets with the guy the MC loves….it’s a horrid mess. BTW I’m NOT a romance writer. So now I have a Love Quadrangle (or is it a Love Square?). Help…me……
And then there’s this new element, this whole backstory that explains why and how my alternate history is alternate. And I’ve barely touched on it, and it’s an integral part of the story.
So right now, I’ve printed out what should be the first third of my novel (Act I + maybe a little Act II) and I’m going over it with a fine-tooth comb. I can see a lot of issues in the printed version I can’t see in Word. Aside from writing down all the story issues I find, marking up poor sentences, and checking consistency, I’m rating every scene on these dimensions on a 0-10 scale. Then I add a comment to justify the score.
Dimension Definition
World/Setting How real is the setting? How unique is the world?
Conflict How intense/interesting is the conflict? How can it be improved?
Tension How much will the reader care about what happens here?
Twist How big, permanent, and irreversible are the actions in the scene (the outcome)?
POV How strong/deep/intimate is the POV? Do we really feel the emotional arc of the scene?
Importance Probably the most “important” dimension…how important is this scene is the grand scheme of things? Turning points should be 8-10, pure backstory should be 0-3. How much does this scene contribute to the Main Plot?
Character How believable are the character’s actions? Are they “in character?” Would they really do these things or am I making them act for my own convenience?
Continuity/Transition How does this scene flow from the previous to the next scene? Do we know where/when we are relative to other scenes? Are we missing anything in between?
Theme How strongly does this scene express the Main Theme of the novel? Do we go off on tangents?
And now here’s my write-up for Scene 4 to give you an example. I probably need to be harsher on the numbers, but I’m still fleshing out my system.

World/Setting 7 Nice intro to RL. Maybe some more details on clothing
Conflict 8 Emperor is asking Dunstan to do a lot of hard things he doesn't want to do.
Tension 9 Emperor is nuts.
Twist 8 Dunstan now has a few to get married
POV 7 Dunstan really sees what's going on...need a bit more emotional reaction
Importance 6 Kind of backstoryie. Also promises a lot that won't show up until Act II. It might make sense to push back a few scenes
Character 6 Emperor is good, Dunstan a bit soft, but he knows his place. Emphasize Emperor's power a bit more
This gives me a better feel for time but it's not related to the other scenes in any way yet.   
Theme 6 Nobility gone wild. Power madness.

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  1. Good stuff! Thanks for sharing. I know what you mean about stuff changing in the rewrite -same thing is happening to me ;o) Handy little chart there ;o)

    Great post! Have a good weekend Andrew!

  2. Revisions are HARD! I'm glad to be over that stage for Monarch, for the moment... and working on a first draft. That's always fun.

  3. You divide your stories into Acts? Omg, so do I! I find it the easiest way to revise (chapters being too short as chunks to work with, and the entire novel being too long.)

    I'm also doing a rewrite revision right now.

    I love that chart that you've made (especially with the importance rating!!! how clever!) The categories are great reminders to me! I'm about to open up the current chapter document and get cracking, and I'm glad to be reminded what's important. :)

    Your love quadrangle makes me laugh, too. I have something similar--more like an ex-lover who gets thrown into the mix, but can't be ignored because she's an integral part of Defeating The Bad Guy--to make my emotionally stupid MC realize she likes her partner in crime ;)

  4. @Erica: that's what it's for :)

    @Lady: jealous

    @Alex: Just your basic Three-Act Structure, nothing fancy. Although I can't decide where Act II really begins because there are a couple turning points that are good candidates. One of these days I'll figure it all out.

  5. Wow, dude, that's a lot of work. I claim a similar affliction (shrinks call it OCD) when writing fantasy.

    See, I have this novel my bro and I were working on, and 100kw into it I discovered it was a TRILOGY.

    Yeah. Eff that. The project's been on hold for a while, now.

    But I had all these spreadsheets, charts, graphs, tables, plots, you name it, you live it.

    And research. Oh, Heavenly Father did I have research... on HORSES of all the damned things! (integral part of the story, eh)

    This is why I'm not sure I want to write fantasy! Urgh, man, urgh. Fiction is so much simpler.

    - Eric


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