Revision: Days 19 and 20

May 16, 2011 at 8:52 am (Anatomy of a revision)

Day 19: Chapter 8 falls in the morning, more quickly than I expected. I use the rest of that no-internet block to outline exactly how I want Chapter 9 to go, then take a quick break.

I write most of Chapter 9 in one long session while out of the house, add on another bit at the library, and finish up in the evening. It’s more painful to write than I expected; I’m putting characters through some wrenching events here, and even though I’m the one orchestrating their actions, I still feel bad for them.

I’m starting to get into the part of the novel that worked well without major structural changes. In theory, this means I’ll be moving more quickly, since certain chapters stood well on their own. Not sure how this will work out in practice.

And I’m still trying to figure out how to pull things together at the end. One or two things are falling into place — the identity of an unnamed character early on has become clear, and I can bring him back near the end to completely devastate one of my narrators — but the order of it is still uncertain. I think I’m going to need another staring-out-the-window session before I can assemble the ending properly. Ideally, it’ll make a good break between revisions.

Day 20: AAARGH where is the time going

Chapter 10 gets revised across two sessions, followed by Chapter 11. It’s a better chapter now that I’ve chopped a good half of it away. So much of this stage of revision feels like some weird puzzle: add one piece, take away another, see if it works, add another piece, take away another . . .

I’m moving quickly on this, but I can’t help feeling like I ought to be faster. Maybe it’s that I’ve set an unreasonable deadline for myself, maybe it’s a side effect of seeing “day 20” and “chapter 10” together and wondering why the numbers aren’t closer, but it still doesn’t seem like enough.

Maybe I just need to switch to decaf.

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