KotSQ: Revision Update #6
KotSQ: Revision Update #6

KotSQ: Revision Update #6

Revision progress bar showing 64 of 240 pages revised, 27% Complete

64 rough draft pages have become 89 revised pages.

This installment reunites us with the age-old problem of knowing it’s only the second of many, many passes and therefore doesn’t have to be perfect, only better, but also getting upset because it’s not perfect. In the name of aggressive imperfection, I’m adding things I know I’ll have to cut later because “this spot needs something” but if I knew what, I would have written it the first time, so I have to fumble around plugging the holes with whatever trash stops the leaks and hope at some point in the future my brain recovers enough to look at the patch job and say, “Well, that sucks, but at least it created a space for This Brilliant Solution, which I will now effortlessly insert.”

And hey, you never know, some of it might be okay. The part that seemed to be primarily about defensive castle architecture provided an opportunity to squeeze Heroine and Hero together in a narrow space so she notices he has nice lips and a warm body and enumerates the reasons she’ll be ignoring them. It’ll need work on the next pass, but it is a good place to drop a mention of sexual awareness (and immediately thwart it). Proof I have to trust the process while also remaining mindful of tangents that waste time and cause bloat.

Mercifully, Past Me nailed the structure starting with the outline, so I don’t have to worry about changing anything in a way that creates more problems. It’s just a matter of figuring out how to make the best use of what I already have.

Heroine acquires what’s essentially a flashlight, and while it’s a handy toy, she did manage to get by without it for her entire life previously. It’s not a big deal to her, but I also don’t want it to drop out of readers’ memories for so long it seems to come out of nowhere when she actually needs it later. So how do I make it more memorable without inventing a bullshit excuse to use it in every other scene? I drop it off a third-story ledge and break it, and then I send Hero to find and fix/rebuild it. Then it’s not about the flashlight because it reveals something about Hero’s past, proves he’s not dead weight on the team, and gives him something to do during a couple of scenes (I always have tons of “WHAT ARE PEOPLE DOING?!?!” notes in the margins because I’m excessively dialogue driven), and maybe next time heroine uses the flashlight as a projectile or a club, she doesn’t worry about breaking it because she trusts Hero either made it sturdy enough to withstand a little jostle or can fix it again. This all extends the emotional utility of a recurring prop without assigning earthshattering significance to it.

I realized Heroine’s most recent name change is one letter off my made-up word for a title (as in nobility), so when someone later refers to her as the equivalent of “Lady So-and-so,” it’s going to look like a mistake. And lo, hi ho, off to the name mines we go. Again. At this point, I’m tempted to just lop some letters off Heroine. Heroi? Roine? Eroi? Oine? No worse than the other monikers she’s discarded, surely. (BONUS: One of those options is dangerously close to Hero’s discarded name, and it sounds okay with Heroine’s surname, which has never changed. I’m sorely tempted to troll myself with something even closer, the character naming version of “I’ve looked everywhere and can’t find my keys, which have been in my hand the whole time I’ve been searching.”) (UPDATE: I succumbed to Find and Replace. We’ll see how long this one sticks.)

The last scene in this section gave me a hard time, in part because I got overzealous with the “start as far into the action as you can” thing and took too long to consider that as an origin of the difficulty. Often, a fair chunk can be trimmed from the beginning of a scene because you were fumbling toward a stronger starting point, but sometimes what you need to do is rewind a minute and add a couple lines of setup to ease into what’s happening—particularly if transitions were a pain in your ass in the first draft and you “solved” that problem with WE DON’T NEED NO STINKING TRANSITIONS!, leaving a disorienting jump between scenes. It doesn’t take a lot of words to build a bridge of “In the hours since we did that last thing, some stuff that wasn’t interesting enough to show in detail happened, and now we’re here.”

Another problem was that it was a Frankenscene, a bunch of necessary conversations that must take place before the story goes any further but I couldn’t find a better place for them and so dumped them here and hoped lightning would strike and bring them to life. They weren’t designed to go together, so putting them end to end would be a mess of Talk, COMPLETE TOPIC CHANGE, Talk, COMPLETE TOPIC CHANGE, and so on. So each of these conversations had to be carved into chunks, lines that had to stay together for continuity and breaks where there could be a little breathing room before picking up the discussion again, followed by the arduous process of test fitting a chunk of another conversation in the gap and seeing whether there was any possibility of stitching them together neatly. No? Maybe if we put two pieces of the intervening convo and bandage it all together with “WHAT ARE PEOPLE DOING?!?!”? Oh damn, these pieces fit together but now this is in front of something it absolutely must follow… Arranging it took a week, never mind the rest of its revision. Needless to say, glad that one’s behind me.

Moving on to the road trip!

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