Got the second rough draft of the current WIP done! That means I’ve done the first cut (I cut 47 pp) and also taken care of the 30+ notes-to-self to fix continuity etc, which added back about 6 pp. The story’s now about 123,000 words, which isn’t bad. I’m sure I’ll wind up doing a final cut and knocking it down a bit more, but this is good for now.
The accumulated clean-up notes are sometimes totally trivial: if somebody uses a knife in the last scene, she’d better HAVE a knife in some earlier scene. That’s easy: find a place to insert the knife, put it in, all done.
Then there are the trivial-but-annoying fixes: does everyone who’s supposed to have an accent have one all the way through the story? Checking this means reading over every single scene a character appears in all the way through. You don’t want to overdo the references to the accent, either, so you have to evaluate each scene to see if the references to the accent, if any, seem appropriate. Same sort of thing with physical description: too much? Too little? Does that character have blue eyes all through, is that one consistently bald? Same again with the physical description of the landscape: don’t want to bog things down, but I want to do enough description to put the reader in the scene.
This sort of checking is so VERY VERY tiresome. It’s this sort of thing that makes me bored with the manuscript by the time I send it off for a second opinion. Luckily I get un-bored as time passes, so when someone requests revisions, that’s not usually such a trial.
Then there’s the need for re-checking big, important aspects of the book. Oressa’s relationship with her father is not the same as Gulien’s. Relationships have to stay consistent, or change in appropriate ways, as the story unfolds. If I reinterpret one character toward the end of the book, then I have to go back through and smooth that out from the beginning — initial scenes with that character may have to change, everyone’s relationships with that character may have to be tweaked — lots of decision making and judgment calls. This is not as tedious, but it is hard.
At the end, I routinely wind up not sure whether the characterization works. This is a big, big reason I need another opinion. Like in the Griffin Mage, Book 2: I couldn’t tell whether the relationship between Gereint and Beguchren worked. It was supposed to be a subtle relationship, but it’s central to the story and very important and it was harder than putting in a romance because you know the reader understands how romances work and will “fill in” the appropriate emotions, but a subtle nonsexual relationship between two men? You have to do it all yourself because that relationship could take so many different shapes.
So the notes that are left? They are permanent notes about conflicts and relationships. Those notes never go away, because I refer to them over and over as I do the final revision. And then I hope my second readers tell me how great the characterization is. Always a relief when I hear that!
AND! Taking a break now, because I’m dying to read the rest of Marsden’s Tomorrow series! I hope the rest of them arrive TODAY!
I can talk myself into thinking the characterization works or doesn’t work — I can talk myself into and out of both beliefs in a surprisingly short period of time — so it’s extremely helpful to have an objective reader tell me that Yes, it’s fine; or No, they can’t see that character acting like that in this scene.