The Second Draft: The Initial Edits

For some reason, I have been completely unmotivated in revising my project. It’s not that I don’t want to get it ready for someone else to read it—I absolutely do. But whether it’s laziness, impatience, fear, intimidation, or simply not knowing exactly what to do, I’ve been stuck. Still am, in some respects.

But I just have to start.

So without knowing exactly how to approach this whole revision thing (as I have never gotten this far before), I’m just going to dive in. First, I’m only looking to revise the first part of the story, the first ‘episode.’ That at least gives me a little bit less to be overwhelmed with.

In rereading the episode, I find that the structure is fairly sound. Because I outlined extensively beforehand, there aren’t any major lapses in plot logic or cause and effect. Most of the scenes can stay where they are, and more or less the same as they are now.

But before I jump into line-by-line language-based revision, what are some of the big stuff that needs work?

For this story, it’s pacing, exposition, and character.

Parts of the story feel rushed, in no small part because I forgot that I could use scene breaks and ended up writing one forty-five page chunk of text. So the first thing I did was figure out where I could insert some scene breaks; I’ll have to finesse the exact endings and beginnings of the scenes, and maybe add in some more breaks, but it’s a start.

Another attempt to work on pacing will mean breaking up some of the big paragraphs of description into shorter nuggets to make them read a little easier. And I might add in some more description of characters and settings elsewhere in order to slow down scenes that feel rushed. I’m not really sure exactly how to fix pacing yet, so I’ll report back on whether that helps at all…

Exposition is a bit of a necessary evil in the start of a story that has a certain amount of worldbuilding to establish. And because I write in ‘episodes,’ that means I have to lay the groundwork in a shorter amount of space than if I had an entire novel to do it. I’ll work to delay any unnecessary exposition as long as possible, but for the most part, some of the clunky info dumping is just going to have to stay. At least for now—hopefully the actual dialogue can be smoothed over to make it a little more interesting.

The last and most important major element to be fixed is the sense of character. I think I need to give each character a little more personality and some better introductions. Part of the disparity between the lifeless characters in this first story, and their far-more-interesting selves later on, is the simple fact that you get to know your characters better as you go. By the end of the project, they have much more life. So now I’ve got to bring that life back to the beginning.

I’ll start there, rewriting as I go. I think part of my hesitation is that changing, deleting, and recreating my words feels a little wrong—not that I think the originals are perfect, but there’s just a bit of an instinct not to change what I’ve already done. That attitude needs to go if this project is ever going to have a chance at life.

So I just have to start.

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About J. Sevick

Just write.
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