I am sure I do not have to explicitly say this, but, “Wow, what a rollercoaster ride.” You never know the ups and downs that happen on the ride quite right, until you ride the ride multiple times. Sure you may know that it may drop at a certain point, or incline that you can see coming, but you don’t know the twists and the turns of a roller coaster intimately until you have ridden that ride multiple times. That is the same feeling I have when I go through my revision process. In fact, it’s happening right now.
So, I am currently working on a sequel to my first novel, The Trials of the Core, this one being (tentatively titled) The Curse of Pirini Lilapa. I wrote the first draft and looked at it in amazement. It was good. At least, I thought it was. Since writing the first book I knew the characters intimately so I didn’t have to spend much time in knowing how to develop them. I went back once more through for plot development and making sure things were more grammatically correct than my first version. With that being done, I sent it off to my Beta-Readers, my other riders on this rollercoaster. After they read it, these readers/riders of mine gave me the first feedback that told me this rollercoaster I was riding, was in trouble for derailment.
Okay, so I gathered all of this feedback and went through and made further changes to the book, thinking surely this has got to be it. I felt comfortable enough to, at this point, give it to my professional editor in New York. This guy has worked at the major four publishing companies and when I went to him last time for an edit, he gave me great advice. I really needed his opinion on this novel.
Well, as he read through my novel, he noticed multiple kinks in it that needed to be worked out. More than I had anticipated, truly. So, after a long conversation with him, I had a clear outline of what I needed to do with my novel to make it the best thing it could possibly be.
The first step into this was to make notecards that detailed my characters arch through the story part he was involved in. I did this with all three parts of the story (make notecards that is) and I focused on character development and growth throughout each of those points because, yes the characters are defined, but their characters archs weren’t and that was a major problem. Actually, I find plots of stories to be rather similar and it are the characters that readers often connect with, not the plot. I mean, let’s be serious folks, if Shakespeare was stealing things from other literary works in the 16th century, there is little to nothing in today’s 21st century that isn’t borrowed from something, but I digress.
So, these notecards were made and I bought a book called “Revising Fiction: Making Sense of the Madness” by Kirt Hickman which I totally recommend to anyone who is serious about revisions. It is amazing. Enough said. Anyways, I read this book and then started to seriously revise my story looking for places where too much information was used, adverbs, dialogue tags, but most importantly I revised my book for character arch and making sure that each chapter the main character involved is growing in some way whether that is a positive growth or negative.
My fifteen chapter, part one of my story, is now seventeen chapters. I deleted one whole chapter because there were two back-to-back traveling chapters and it became boring for the reader. But, the largest thing I didn’t expect happened. . .my characters, who I thought they were, changed on me. The editing rollercoaster ride I was on took a sudden left. And, it hurt. There is a scene that I created, well, really, my character created because it was the end to his character arch. I had been building him up to this moment throughout his whole part and then when it got to the climax of his story, I realized that it couldn’t end the way I had originally planned it. It wouldn’t do my character justice. I needed him to make a hard decision and that decision changed a way that another character acted. What I’m trying to say is that, that one character’s incident changed the whole ride. What I thought was going to be a right turn, was suddenly a left.
The reason why I’m saying this and feel as though it’s even worth blogging is because revision is necessary for anything that we do—whether that be an author like me writing novels, or short stories, or even for projects for your marketing firm. We are constantly revising and refining what we have. The blueprint I laid out for my part, I laid out in pencil. Each part, each rollercoaster that I change now, I will need to adjust to the new twists and turns as I continue to build the amusement park that my story will surely be.
Do I think I made the right choice in letting this new development happen? Yes, I do. I think I needed to let it happen because as I added more chapters and more character stuff, I look at the climax and see it being the only way out of the situation that they are in. This is the only way that I can keep most of the plot the same, and I hope that the situation will really shock my readers. It definitely shocked me. What is this crazy twist? Well, you will have to look for my story, The Curse of Pirini Lilapa to find out 😉