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How do you solve a problem like Revisions?

August 31, 2011

The rough draft of the thesis novel came in at about fifty-thousand words long. The funny thing is, I don’t consider it the first draft yet. It’s totally semantics, and there is a gargantuan amount of room for interpretation, but in general, what I’m talking about is this: For me to call it a first draft it’s got to be recognizable as a single story where the events follow causally from material present in the text.

Let me put it another way. If the story’s got notes in it, it’s a rough draft. If the notes have been translated into scenes, well, then at least the draft doesn’t have notes in it and you can read it like an actual story. The writing might still need a lot of work, the scenes might be too much Tell and not enough Show, the characters might be too loud or too soft, but what’s on the page is a story that follows from one event to the next without any nested caveats or promises that future drafts will contain important information. It’s a done draft.

I’m in the process now of turning notes into scenes, turning rough draft into first draft.

The biggest changes happen in the first five chapters, roughly twelve-thousand words. There are also big enough changes to characters or events in chapters eight, thirteen, and eighteen through twenty, that I want to try and fit ’em in now. So, yeah, about half the chapters need a touch just to get the story into alignment. I’ve made notes on what should happen and how our characters should feel about it.

Tomorrow I’ll start at the beginning and work my way through. My plan is to make as few changes as possible in this pass. I’m working on a deadline and I’ve got to share the first draft with my thesis adviser asap. So, get it in order, share it, then improve it.

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