In This Strange World of Dreams…

At last, the time has come.

Between writing, revising, and editing, I’ve spent the better part of three years working on my debut novel.  Now, after so much hard work, thinking and re-thinking, writing and re-writing, I truly believe I’ve done all I can with Wide Horizon.  Now, with all said and done, I have taken to reading it one final time; not as a writer this time, but as a reader.

It’s an interesting experience: looking over a finished piece of work.  Sitting here now, it’s hard to believe that there was a time when I truly believed I couldn’t write an entire novel, see it all through to the end.  Years on, I’m left finally with a complete work of fiction.  And good or bad, the fact of the matter is I did it.  I made this.  That, I’d like to think, is in and of itself something to be proud of.

Much of the story differs little from how it read prior to editing.  This, I feel, is not so much a testament to fantastic writing as it is to my rather…unorthodox…method of writing the novel.

As I’ve said before, one of my greatest struggles in writing has been moving past the rough draft.  I tend to put a great deal of thought into what I put to paper, and once it’s written, at times it can be difficult to find another way to say what’s already been said.  However, from the beginning Wide Horizon was different.  At the zenith of my writing, I developed a system: after each completed chapter, I would put the story aside for a day.  Once that period had passed, I’d revisit the chapter to revise.  I did this because I’ve found it difficult to revise something I’ve just written; the idea remains fresh in my mind, and as such my mind skips over most typos, grammatical errors, poor wording, as I simply see what I intended to write.

In addition to my wait-a-day approach to chapters, once every five chapters I’d go back and revise the entire previous section.  Furthermore, after completing one of the three parts of the novel, I’d wait several days, then go back and revise everything I’d written thus far.

As such, upon completing the novel I wasn’t exactly left with a traditional rough draft; while Part 3 was still rough and lightly worked, parts 1 and 2 had already been revisited, rewritten, and revised countless times over the course of several years.  By the time Part 3 was complete, I’d already reworked several pivotal scenes, reworked one of the main characters twice, and completely rewritten the first chapter no less than ten times.  In retrospect, perhaps this was why I found it so difficult to revise Part 3; by that point, I’d already done a lot of work on the rest of the novel.  Creatively, I was spent.

Thus, as I read now, much of the novel remains relatively familiar to me.  Yet it’s remarkable how much the scenes rewritten in editing have changed the story.  Looking back, my first draft may have been compelling, yet it lacked real character development.  The entire thing felt somewhat mechanical.  Now, it feels different: this story is compelling, with deep characters and raw emotion that serves to enhance the overall plot.

Of course, much remains to be done.  Over the coming week, I’ll need to craft a query letter, lay down a synopsis or two, and compile a list of agents to target.  Yet for now, I’m happy to be taking one final, productive victory lap.

After years of toil, the Wide Horizon is flying free.

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3 Comments

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  1. Congratulations! Also, may I ask how did you edit your texts before Wide Horizon?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, I’m not sure I can provide a useful answer, as Wide Horizon is, by an extremely wide margin, the longest thing I’ve ever written. Prior to that, I believe my longest piece was a 2,100 word short story.

      I will say this, though: part of the reason I started what we might call “progressive revision” was to maintain continuity. I had never before sat down to write something without being able to plan it all out in my head. Because I had to write it in parts (and small ones), I began periodically reading back through things to make sure I wasn’t contradicting myself. That led to frequent revisions (there were times when I did indeed contradict myself, but the contradiction seemed to work better than the original section).

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      • Ah, I see, that makes sense. Indeed, since it is your first novel, such an editing style makes even more sense. My style is more intuitive, but then again, I already have a little bit of experience with novel-length works. 🙂

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