Third Pass Revision

I’ve been working on a revision plan for the third draft of Song.

I’ve written about my revision plan structure before, and that structure isn’t much different for a third pass than it is for a second. The things I am trying to address are different, however: the second pass was mostly about internal consistency and not sucking. This third pass is more about subtleties of character and theme, as well as not sucking.

This is why I ask for beta reader feedback – I’m too close to the characters to see what’s missing in the text to justify their reactions and relationships. Fresh eyes are invaluable in finding those places where a character’s behaviour is unreasonable, or a transformational moment s not earned.

Let’s take theme as an example of how to take a wide-ranging concept and instil that into the content of the book. Theme is something which often emerges during the writing of a story and there are likely to be many parts of the manuscript which in some way undermine or fail to reinforce a theme.

So, what I do is to make note of the theme and to go through each chapter and see what can be done to enhance or strengthen the presentation of that theme. Those notes go into action items in the plan just as before. These actions are likely to be a bit more fuzzy than those from the second pass since the thing to be achieved is a bit broader, but they are still action items that I can tick off as I go.

There are lots of ways to present an idea to a reader, from word choice to use of colour to just telling them, but I am not going to dig into those here. There are also interactions between this thematic work and that of improving characterisation: the theme might be best reinforced using a character moment. But whatever it is I decide to do, I will write an action item for it.

However, the intention is to make the theme present and consistent. I am trying to be careful about not over-egging the pudding, though – forcing a theme makes it unpalatable.

The assumption in all of this is that the story is broadly in place by this stage. The second pass was about making the book solid, while third pass is about making a book better.

Anyway, that’s what I am working on right now. How is your writing going?

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