The Scary Journey of Novel Revision

After reading about eight books on how to revise/edit a novel, I finally found one that makes sense. It’s called The 90-Day Rewrite: The Process of Revision by Alan Watt. I am heartened by statements such as:

  • My goal is to help you develop a process that makes your work as compelling and dynamic as possible.
  • We never want to force our story into our idea of how it should be structured.
  • This does not mean that the story necessarily needs to be re-plotted. It means that we are going to understand why we wrote what we wrote by becoming aware of what our subconscious did quite naturally.

I am also encouraged by his definitions of “dilemma” and “theme.” They make sense to me. He writes about transformation as the main goal of story, and I agree. Alan Watt’s revision process seems to parallel the NaNoWriMo process of “getting the words down” and my process of writing by the seat of my pants.

Other books on novel revision were too dry and rigid. I had trouble finding my way in them. Grammar books haven’t been helpful. What I need is novel and plot development. Then language and then grammar. First, I have to figure out what the heck happens and how I’m going to get that across before I look at paragraphs and sentences.

So, I’ve started reading through The 90-Day Rewrite, sorting out the dilemma and theme in my head using my first novel draft (Cosmic Control: Bronwen’s First Age). It’s a very complex story with alien worlds, time travel, entirely created cultures and religions, and complex characters. I doubt that will be the first novel I revise using Alan Watt’s process. I’m inclined to choose a less complex book to begin with, perhaps The Unicorn Rescue (which is in serious need of  a better title). However, I feel like I can actually accomplish it now.

I did self-edit (with no help or reference) Uncle Tauber’s Trunk and published it because I wanted to bring a novel draft to completion. It is far from perfect but it is done, readable, and a complete story. Perhaps one day I will go back and revise it properly.

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