Today’s objective: Save what can be saved…

Over the last thirty years, I’ve gotten really efficient at revisions. I have my simple, streamlined system, I go through once, I go through fast…

And all that shit broke down with THIS book, because I wrote the wrong novel. 

I got sidetracked by a character who is wrong for the book, wrong for the world, wrong for the worldbuilding, wrong for the plot… and very, VERY wrong for the future of the series.

Worse, and I centered the novel around that character.

This isn’t case of removing some ancillary stuff. This is a case of saving what can be saved (IF I’M LUCKY, about a third of the manuscript), totally replotting new story into the places where the old story was, and tying what I can save in with the new stuff smoothly.

Done for the day, but today was progress by inches.

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The first sixty pages of Ohio 3 held up fine.

Starting on manuscript page 61, I went in exactly the wrong direction, dropped the really good local character I had in place for one who broke my otherwise tight worldbuilding through two novels and the start of this one all to shit, threw in a bunch of stuff that widens the scope of one small, tightly bordered town by five… count ‘em… FIVE whole planets.

And while it doesn’t QUITE go as far as “anything can happen, so nothing matters”, it sure a shit doesn’t stay inside the original premise of the series, which is that the things that happen in this one small town can affect the universe… BUT they can only EVER happen inside the physical boundaries of this one small town.

So now I’m going to read the rest of what I’ve written in this book with an eye toward finding anything I can save.

I’m going to assume there will be nothing. But I’m going to do a complete read through, just in case.

And then… oh, yippee… I’m going to pick up the plot I started on page one, and broke on page 60, and I’m going to replot.

And then rewrite.

And then be grateful that I did not pursue any of the new characters or worldbuilding in the latter part of this novel in either Book Four or Book Five.

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Okay. I have the manuscript printed out.

I did some brainstorming in the shower on how I can save as much of what I remember of the story as possible WITHOUT breaking what I did in the first two books, or the last two.

Worst case, I’ll end up writing a completely new novel. That’s about as bad as fiction-writing worst cases get, though, and I’m not eager to do that.

So while I was letting the shower pound on my head, I figured out some ways I might be able to keep a lot of what I did in Book 3 WHILE working in the Primary Five-Book problem (which I didn’t figure out until I was about halfway through Book Five).

The primary problem is evident in the first chapter of Book One. I just didn’t extrapolate from RESULTS backwards to CAUSES to identify the problem until I started thinking through this massive revision.

It became clear there, it’s BEEE-YOOO-TEE-FUL!, and mostly my Muse/Gut/Subconscious Mind got all the stuff I needed into the books without me identifying why I needed them.

Not, though, in this book. In this book, I ran off chasing wild Scots, and as a result, I face a lot of work to get things on track.

However, post-shower, I don’t think I’m going to have to throw this book out and start fresh.

That’s big. From what I remember of the book, there’s a lot in it that still fits the later books, and that can be saved.

SO…

With under four-hundred manuscript pages now sitting on my desk, I’m going to do one no-touch read-through just to reacquaint myself with what’s in there. I’ll take notes in my series notebook.

THEN and ONLY THEN, I’ll brainstorm solutions to the question: What’s worth saving, and what has to go?

Wish me luck.

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Finished up the type-in revision of Ohio 2 yesterday, and I love the book. Printed out the revised manuscript this morning, and have it set up for Matt to edit when he has time.

And then I opened up Ohio 3.

<cue theme from Jaws: beat head repeatedly on desk with vigor and frustration… but in time with the music, because at least I can do this with a little style>

Boy, oh, BOY did I go off in the wrong direction with that novel. I’m torn between:

  • Spending the paper and printer toner to print it out, and trying to revise it into a keepable novel
  • Exporting it as a pdf I can read off of my Kindle, just to get a read-through to see what — if anything — I can salvage
  • Shoving it into the Dead Zone on my hard drive (projects over the years that I’ve killed off for being unworthy, unfun, or just bad…), and writing a new Ohio 3
  • Deleting the thing unread, and doing a brand-new Book 3

Today, however, I’m going to do nothing.

I’m just off the pretty-tough revision of Ohio 2. I have to concede that my objectivity is not at its highest.

Also, I’m kind of queasy, and I don’t think it’s entirely from that first encounter with Book 3.

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Pretty decent day. This part of the book took significant reworking, and I’m betting this is going to be one of the places where my editor finds out I struggled a bit.

But I love what I finally ended up with. 

And I stand a pretty good chance of finishing the revision on Monday. I am, of course, taking the weekend off. Sanity requires down time.

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Today was one of the weirder parts of Book 2, and it’s been a while since I’ve seen it. I was afraid it might not hold up.

But it did. I found myself laughing in the right places, and getting choked up in the right places, and while there were some story issues I had to fix, this section was overall pretty clean.

Tomorrow, I’ll pick up on manuscript page 369 with Chapter 23, and I should be able to finish most of the rest of the write-in revision. If not all of it.

The last page of this manuscript is page 431.

That’s less than a hundred pages of write-in — should be doable if everything else goes smoothly.

It would be pretty cool to have the type-in revision finished this week. I’d then be able to start fresh on the read-through of Book 3 on Monday.

I’ll see how it goes. 

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The last couple days have been hectic, and I’ve managed to miss blogging twice.

But I’ve gotten my revision pages every day. This morning, I’m starting the write-in revision on page 291. The last page in the novel is 431. I won’t get there today, but I’ll make good headway toward getting there, and might be able to wrap up the Book 2 revision tomorrow.

Yesterday’s revision was a lot of fun — I hit a scene I’d forgotten writing, and laughed my ass while working my way through it. My poor main character is under attack by enemies both hidden and right out in the open, and yesterday the bad guys tried to pull a bait-and-switch on her.

This was stuff I’d forgotten having written, so it was all fresh to me, and reading through it, I had a fair amount of stuff to fix.

BUT the scenes I worked on took me by surprise in multiple places, and made me laugh out loud once.

Today I’m onto the next section, and I’m pretty sure stuff gets darker. But when you write in flow — that is, when your brain is making up the story as you go and your fingers are pretty much taking dictation — you don’t labor over words, so when you come back to them, you’re as surprised as readers will be by what happens next.

Therefore… <evil grin> I’m looking forward to discovering what else my writing brain did while I wasn’t looking.

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Today was tough. I had a LOT of hand-written stuff that had to be typed in, and a number of existing pages that had to be either heavily re-written or deleted entirely.

Writing-wise, it was a good day, in that I love this story and the way all the pieces are coming together. But it was a LOT of work.

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