Revisions, Major and Minor

Chapters Edited: 7
Scenes Edited: 20
Scenes Completely Rewritten: 3
Words Murdered: 1,959 (7.4%)

People hunting Hagai: 5
Times Hagai puts his foot in his mouth: 3
People Sam has fought with: 1
People Sam has stolen from: 4 (plus many that weren't dramatized)

These are some things I keep finding while I'm editing. If you've ever edited your own stuff, these probably won't be much of a surprise.
  • Lots of unnecessary "Hagai saw" "Hagai watched" "Hagai heard". He's the point of view character. If I write it, of course he's the one that notices it.
  • A lot of "started to" "began to" "almost" and "nearly". Declarative is better. "He ran," not "He started to run."
  • A few (though not as many as I feared) unnecessary dialogue tags: he said, she said. If the tag doesn't add information that's not obvious from the dialogue itself, then it's gotta go.
  • A lot of telling and unnecessary details, especially in the less-planned scenes. I'd write details and ideas as I thought of them. All of those details helped me understand what happened, but most were unnecessary to relay events to the reader. In fact, they get in the way. This happened especially in the beginning, where I had to rewrite two scenes in order to smooth them out (the opening of Chapter 1 is one example).
So far, I've only found one major plot revision that should've been caught in an earlier stage. It was a weak spot in the plot, where motivations became really complex, hard to follow, and consequently weak.

See, after Sam steals the stone from Hagai, Hagai runs into a police officer, Lieutenant Tobin. Tobin wants Hagai to help him get incriminating evidence on Sam, while Hagai just wants Tobin to tell him where to find Sam so he can try and get the stone back. When Hagai finds Sam, and Sam doesn't give back the stone, Hagai thinks he can get Sam arrested and get the stone back that way, so he tries to get the evidence Tobin asked for (in this case, gold coins from a certain bank). Sam says he'll pay Hagai in gold if Hagai does a certain job for him. But while doing the job, Hagai is told that Sam is the only one who can lead him to his mother, so he changes his mind, but the police are already set to arrest Sam so Hagai has to betray them and help Sam escape, but...

Messy, right? I can hardly follow it, and I wrote it. So I scrapped it and replaced it with something simpler. Hagai goes to the cops, but now he's up-front about the stone and agrees to help them arrest Sam. Hagai still does a job for Sam, but his motivation is more clear: to trap and arrest Sam. Until, of course, he learns that Sam is the only one who can lead him to his mother, and Hagai must decide what's more important: the law or finding his mother.

Well, it'll be better in book form. Anyway, that change required a scrapped scene and some medium-sized changes in two other chapters. Natalie's post on malleability is timely, for me. I'm sure there are major changes needed that I can't see yet, but the first step is not being afraid of the ones I see.


Natalie Whipple said...

Can I say that I love the stats you've been giving? They crack me up. Especially Sam fighting and stealing. lol.

And good for you for changing that! It sounds MUCH clearer from your summary. That's a good thing.

Adam Heine said...

I'm glad you like the statistics. I keep them because, for whatever reason, statistics motivate me to keep going. But it's good to know others enjoy them too :-)