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The challenge of revisions

My roommate came in the other day and looked around. Currently I have a craft table set up. My laptop sits in the middle, surrounded by manuscript pages that have been marked up by beta readers. I was sitting, working on revisions of Buk Tu. She looked at me and said, “That looks hard.”

Revisions can be incredibly challenging. It’s a lot different than composition. To revise, you have to carefully trim out the pieces that didn’t work, replace them with new material, while still maintaining the structural integrity of the work as a whole. If you cut out pieces, you have to make sure it doesn’t impact later chapters–did you refer to that moment later on? Was some crucial information relayed that no longer exists?–and if you add pieces, you have to make sure the storyline still flows, and that the new pieces connect to what was already there.

I approach revisions in a very non-linear fashion. Most of the time, I do work through the book front-to-back, although not in direct chapter-order. I usually revise in small arcs, by character. So I might work through 2-4 of a particular character’s chapters, until they are in a good place, then move back to a different character. Or if there’s one large section that needs work, I’ll work through that section from all characters’ points of view (for example, a large battle scene, where the viewpoint changes rapidly).

In this revision, which is the result of feedback from several different people, I am working off several references. I have compiled notes electronically from all our beta readers, which I cross-reference in Scrivener as I go. But I also have the paper copy, which comes from our beta reader Whitnee, who goes a bit more in depth with her notes. So I have the paper copy with me at all times while revising, in addition to the notes I have in Scrivener. It can be challenging to keep track of it all, but I have a pretty good memory and ability to multi-task, which are both important for the way I approach these revisions.

I am incredibly grateful to all our beta readers. They helped me and Sam come up with solutions to the issues we already knew about, and identified many more. Their input is making for a stronger book. It is a great deal of work, but it is absolutely worth it. Several of our readers have remarked that Buk Tu is even better than Telsharu, and that is a great compliment indeed.

Our editor helped us set a goal, to have the manuscript to him in three weeks (now two and a half). This is a doable, if challenging goal. Especially with all the craziness of regular life! But we are hoping for a fall release of Buk Tu, and this is the next step on that road.

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