"It's Exactly the Same, Only Different."
That's exactly how I feel as I begin revising my third novel.
What is the same? I find myself rewriting many times the beginning pages, seeking a tone, a mood, a syntactic benchmark that will lead me through the rest of the novel. I find myself enjoying climbing back into the reality of the novel, only this time the novel is not an idea in my head--the novel exists in the words on the page. I realize again the exhilarating and daunting awareness of what I have and have not accomplished.
What is different? I think in every novel I have written I have grown in my experience and have attempted more. In Dragons of Blood and Stone, I am envisioning a more complex novel, a richer reality. This time, the revision may very well progress more slowly as I restructure the narrative to meet the new criteria of my hopes.
Here is an example from the first draft where I describe Glimmer after he arrives at the Dragon's Spine (a series of hills at the edge of a plateau):
Glimmer realized he had slept and remembered, slept and conversed, communed with master and dragon…and with the ancient, gnarled reality of the apple tree, the young man somberly remembered. Perhaps his lack of weakness was because of his interchange with the tree. The mage idly brushed a wisp of tree hair from his sleeve.
And here is the same concept seen through the eyes of the character Gnossos as the cleric overhears a conversation between Lahad and Glimmer:
Gnossos saw a young man smiling to himself, a strong young man with strawberry-blonde hair, a young man well rested and eager for the day.
“Dream mage!” shouted the man from the Dragon’s Spine. “What have you been doing that you walk in a cloud of dust?”
The young man laughed. “Sleeping with the apples, communing with the earth, talking with master and dragon, Lahad!”
I may change it again, of course, but this type of revision is one that takes time. In my earlier novels, changes were mostly adding something new, taking out something that didn't work, or polishing sentences. This change in point of view requires the sections to be rewritten, even if I don't change the storyline.
I am enjoying the process but see myself setting modest goals for how fast I revise--two pages a day, Monday through Friday, and five pages for each weekend--fifteen pages each week. This goal of fifteen pages a week may not seem like much, but if I adhere to it, then I will have completed the second draft by the end of the school year in June. That would give me the next summer to complete two more drafts. Keeping with my previous schedules, I would have my wife read the third draft when it was completed.
This almost sounds like a New Year's resolution! So be it: 30 pages done, 220 more to go.
Copyright 2010 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved