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I think.  Still working on the first round of revisions on BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING.

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That very rough chapter needed almost a complete rewrite. And the next one needed quite a lot of work, too. Then I added a new scene to the chapter after that and went back and added a completely new (short) chapter. Oh, and in the process I made a change to the timeline, moving one major event up by a year.

I’d hoped to be half-way through this revision pass by now. After all of that, I’m closer to one-third. Still, from this point on I hope it will go more smoothly. Whether it does or not, though, I’m much happier with the story now than I was. So it was all worth it.

Critiques

Even while I was working on the first draft of BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING, readers from my critique group were reading small batches of two or three chapters.

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One of them gave me a fairly harsh critique on one chapter. I did what you do with harsh critiques–set is aside to look at more closely later. Then, when I did the read-through, I incorporated the comments into the manuscript. Over the last two days, I’ve basically completely rewritten that chapter and it is so much better.

That’s what a good critique can do for you. Make you take a harder look at something that may be adequate, but isn’t anywhere near what it needs to be. And again, I say thank you.

I don’t ever want anyone to hold back from telling me what isn’t working, what needs more work, what just needs to be cut and forgotten about. Of course, it’s nice to hear what is working well, too. But that’s not the stuff I need to work on.

 

Revisions on BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING are progressing.

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I mentioned in an earlier post that the read-through had revealed that the first few chapters were the roughest. Nevertheless, I’ve been getting through two or three chapters a day. Until now.

Now I’m up to the one chapter that is the roughest of all. There’s almost as much red text(revision notes) as black (normal). This one’s going to need a lot of work, almost a rewrite. This one may take a while.

Part of the reason this one is so rough is that it was copied from a much earlier version of . . . well, it wasn’t exactly this story. But from an earlier (never-to-be-published) story that was eventually rewritten into part of this one. That one had a character very like my main character in the BECOME series, but he wasn’t the main character in that version, though–which was a mistake. He always was the most interesting character.

A few more chapters after this one, though, and things should get easier. I’m aiming to get at least half-way through this pass by the end of the week. There’ll be one more revision pass after this, although that won’t be a full, look-at-everything pass. Just going back to the notes I haven’t addressed or the new ones I’ve made in this pass, such as:

  1. A possible change in the timeline–and figuring out what that would mean down the line.
  2. Some adjustments to emotional blocks my character suffers from. He still needs the block, but I need to tweak the cause a bit.
  3. Considering altering certain units of measure. Miles or something else more world-specific. Same with weeks and months. Well, months work, since they’re based on the moon cycle and calling it a moon pass is sort of silly. But weeks are arbitrary and I may want to use something else. The trick is figuring out what.

 

Revisions Started

I’m writing this blog a little late today . . . well, tonight. But I have a good excuse. I’ve been working on the revisions of BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING.

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I’m only a handful of chapters in so far, but I am loving the changes. Those first few chapters were . . . not rough, exactly. But they were heavy on information. Now, some of that is unavoidable in fantasy. But this wasn’t, shall we say, as artfully done as it could have been. Now it feels much more organic. And, in the process, I think I’ve given a much better characterization of my main character.

Headed back into the editing cave.

Read-Through

I’m about 60% into the initial read-through of the first draft of BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING.

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Making a few minor revisions as I go, but mostly notes on things that I need to change or add.

Here’s what I know so far:

  1. The first chapters are going to need the most work. No surprise there. As a discovery writer, I’m often feeling my way into the story at the beginning. Also, that’s the part that’s going to need the most in terms of bringing out the internal conflict.
  2. I need to bring that conflict forward throughout. But I knew that already.
  3. Some minor geographical changes need to be made. Partly, this is to accommodate what I’ve written in the sequel, but it works better for this story, too. I’ve made one change, but I’ll need a second read-through to make sure everything is consistent. Well, I’ll be re-reading this at least three or four times before it’s published, anyway.
  4. There are, unsurprisingly, things I need to go back and add. That’s normal.
  5. No matter how hard I sometimes struggled to get this first draft out, I really do still love this story. Whew! That’s the most important one.

I think my subconscious is smarter than me.  For two reasons.

1.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a modified discovery writer, so you’d think, perhaps, that I don’t concern myself with story structure. You’d be wrong. Instead of planning–and outlining–a story following the three-act structure or any other, I usually look at the structure of a story I’ve already written to see where it needs to be tweaked.

Now, my current series is a little bit of a departure for me. DUAL MAGICS is a conventional series made up of four books which each tell a story that together make up a larger arc of the entire series.

Dual Magics 1-3 Boxed Set

BECOME . . . BECOME is more one story that has a significant break in time–almost twenty years–and therefore falls naturally into two books . . . sort of.

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And frankly, this made me a little nervous. It’s really hard to keep the first book from ending on a cliff-hanger. And, as a reader, I hate cliff-hangers. They make me feel like my arm is being twisted to force me to buy the next book just to see what happens. And that doesn’t sit well with my Scots-Irish blood even if I would have bought the next book anyway. I’ve worried that without a clear conflict for this book it would be virtually impossible to bring BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING to a satisfying interim resolution. And I worried that without that conflict–apart from the overall arc of the series–the story sort of meandered. And, to tell the truth, that worry was part of the reason this book has taken so long to write.

So, yesterday, as I was starting the read-through of BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING, I tried and experiment. I just looked at the one-eighth marks, where major plot points should happen, to see if there was something there that I could build up into a conflict for this book. And what do you know? It was right there all the time. It’s an interior conflict for my main character, but it’s a separate conflict that ties into the main conflict of the two-book series. I’ll need to add a bit here and there to pull it up into the light. But the main plot points fall pretty close to all the right places. Now, as I continue the read-through, I’ll be making notes on where I need to add a few internal thoughts or a bit of dialog to just bring this conflict up where it can be seen.

2.

Chekov’s Gun. You know, “If there’s a gun over the mantle in the first act, someone has to fire it by the third act.” Or something very like that.

Well, I’d thrown a character into the middle of BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING. He’s a character who made a brief appearance in BECOME: BROTHERS. I didn’t have any particular reason for reusing him. He did provide a minor complication, but . . . just being there, again, and causing that little problem made him important. Like Chekov’s gun. And I thought I’d probably take him out in the revisions for that reason.

Nope. While I was starting the first draft of BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM, wouldn’t you know that same character turned up again. And he’s in a perfect position to set off a major part of the main conflict.

I swear I didn’t plan that. But I’m sure going to use it.

Finally!

I finished that chapter of BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM I’ve been working on.

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Now I can finally close that file for a month or so while I work on revisions to BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING.

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The plan is to get through that in February (hopefully) and get it out to my beta readers in March. Final revisions and polishing edit in April and publish it in May. That’s the plan, but as someone or other said, “No plan ever survives the first encounter with the enemy. So, we’ll see how that works out.