Round 2: Words That Strike Fear Into My Skeevy Little Heart

Round Two of revisions was the same as Round 1, but different. Same, in that the editorial notes included line-edits and marginalia, as well as a short editorial letter (addressing two major issues that I’ll describe below). Different in that AEV’s notes came at two different times—the first half of the novel one week, the second half, the next. The notes were only AEV’s this time.

Pass 1: With each half of the manuscript, I culled through the pages. The first step was separating the pages into stacks of“marked and unmarked. The unmarked pages were stacked for shredding. The marked pages were tagged as I read through them. Line-edits were highlighted with yellow. Comments in the margins were circled.

Pass 2: I fixed the line-edits. These were straightforward but extensive. 75% of the pages had at least one change. Most had 5-10. It took about 20 hours to work through them all. I checked off each edit as I entered it into the computer.

Pass 3: I responded to margin notes. Some of them were easy fixes, such as comments about voice consistency or missing beats. Others required the recasting of sentences and sometimes, paragraphs. And then there were those soft passages labeled with “Could Be Better” and “You Haven’t Written This Yet.” AEV learned quickly that those phrases had a chilling effect on me. They also motivated me because I realized she was right, and I like to make my editor happy.

Pass 4: Back to the editorial letter. The two big issues with this version were two scenes that I had created or expanded significantly during the first revision. Issue #1 was about a new scene created to show Pesto, one of the main character’s workplace. AEV liked the second part of the scene, but she thought the first part widened the scope of the novel too much. So chop! Went about 2k words (words that I really liked, as well). After excising that sequence, I knitted the sequence back together and added a few more strokes to define the characters. I created two new minor characters for the scene and like them so much I used them twice in the rest of the novel, so I was glad that AEV liked the part that featured them.

Issue #2 concerned the Convenience Store Scene. In the first draft, this scene was meant to be a transitional bit so that the reader could rest up before the end of the second act. AEV recognized that it could do a lot more than that, so in the first set of notes she had asked me to expand it. In the second editorial letter, she asked me to delve into it even more. The right elements were there, but the scene wasn’t cohesive, and it wasn’t living up to its potential. So back into the Quik Stop we went. I spent six hours and twenty minutes completely rewriting it. Because it was an action scene, the blocking had to make sense. I spent quite awhile drawing the sequence as a comic book and even built a scale model so that I had a firm idea of spatial details. I added another minor character as a sounding board for Bug (the main character). When the rewrite was finished, I gave the scene to my DW (the most critical reader I know). Her first words were “I see why AEV didn’t like this. When are going to start rewriting it?” Grrr. So, it was back into the text. A few hours later, I had something DW thought was passable.

Pass #5: The second half of the manuscript arrived. I followed the same method as above. There was no editorial letter, but AEV wanted me to add more sensory details to the last two chapters, as well as add tension between the two main characters. I did this by expanding two chapters to four while changing much of the mythology in the scenes. Instinctively, I was uneasy with some of the changes I’d made, but I decided to see AEV’s reaction before I edited them out.

The revision ended after I listened to the whole manuscript read by Microsoft Sam. I was able to find many typos and catch several naps because Sam’s droning voice puts me straight to sleep. Note: There were fewer passes this time because the notes only came from one editor and because they were limited in scale. I also learned to streamline the process.

Like Round #1, while I was revising for Round 2, I ignored just about everything except the manuscript. Unfortunately, as soon as the revision was submitted, Round 3 started, and it was the most difficult round of all.

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