Like everything else in writing, there are many ways to approach revision, and I’ve written quite a bit about the process elsewhere. But every writer and every project has unique challenges. For NewBook, I’m choosing a slower (since I have no deadline) but thorough and reliable method to cope with its nature and history. I will work the whole manuscript through successive layers, front to back each time, to ensure that it’s structurally correct, in order, and then that the construction on that structural base, that foundation, does what it’s supposed to in each scene, and finally that the “finish” or “curb appeal” of the writing suits the foundation and the structure on top of it.
Why that method? Because it has the best chance of finding and fixing any serious mistakes. I can tell (and so can the few people who’ve see it at various states) that this book started well before my present level of recovery from that concussion. Before that, there was more than a year of progressing from not being able to write, not being able to conceive of a storyline, etc. to writing badly, to having “spots” of good stuff in mass of not good, to storylines that petered out, imagination that stopped dead 10 or 20, or 30 pages in. This book started while I was writing better overall, but still with stretches of “stuck in cement” and it’s had one dead end after another, chunks that proved not to belong to this book after I wrote them. It’s also had chunks of “boring”, from infodump to rambling stuff that, in the end, wasn’t plot-relevant and didn’t reveal anything about the characters, to conversations that happened because nothing else was happening. And it felt “different”…writing felt different, the book felt different, and not (mostly) in a good way. For a long time I didn’t know if it would become a book or be another failed attempt. The only way to find out was to keep going. So I know there are places that will need cutting, and places that will need filling, and characterization that I’m now seeing more clearly to be enriched. My head is clearer than it was 18 months ago, a year ago, even 6 months ago. I would not then have been able to “see” the book as I see it now, let alone re-vision it.
So now I will do what “outline” writers do first: analyze it, dissect the plot, the story arc, the motivations of characters, the underlying “deep logic” of it, and compare that to the actual book. Then fire up the chainsaw to make the big cuts that will leave the real structure visible (to me, anyway.)