Revising the novel again (and again)

Here I go again as the Hollies had it:

266 Hollies

Here I go again

I cant help it

Here I go again

Making the same mistakes

Heading for more heartaches

What can I do when there’s nothing I can do

I looked in your eyes and I knew that I was through

I’m gonna say now

Here I go again

Watch me now ’cause

Here I go again

Here I go again. It’s time to edit the first draft of my novel. Again!

Mistakes! Heartaches! Nothing I can do!

The mistakes

Believing I could work on two major projects and a blog at the same time was my biggest mistake. I’ve written about this before in a post called What I write about when I am not writing fiction in April.

243 New Age coverThe non-fiction book I have been involved in, The New Age of Ageing, will be published in September. We are still dealing with proofs, queries, index, testimonials, and other prepublication matters. It keeps my mind on the non-fiction.

The skills for revising a novel seem to need rebooting every time I sit down with a chapter. But it is now moving slowly, I am happy to report. And I have set myself a deadline (not for sharing yet) to help me move on.


Writing tog

Doubts, I have a few. Can I ever let this novel go? The issues and characters are very important to me. I like spending time with them.

Do I have another novel in me? Will I want to spend the time on it? If this one is to learn about writing a novel what would be the purposes of another novel?

What about another non-fiction book?

These are all dilemmas for which I have no answer, and I experience them as heartaches.

Nothing I can do!

With no current answer there is nothing I can do about those dilemmas at the moment. However, …

145 writing keyboardSomething I CAN do

Get on with it. In particular I need to get on with revealing more of the emotional inner states of my characters. In my notes I have identified four things to look at to do this:

  1. imagery
  2. descriptions
  3. dialogue
  4. closeness of narration to the characters (aka psychic distance)

And there is all the normal editing I need to do to sharpen up all the chapters.

It’s too late to worry about the risks involved, mostly the risk that it isn’t good enough. I need to rewrite, kill my darlings and nail those words.

145 Risk quote

Looking for advice

Any guidance, advice or tips for a would-be reviser?

Related posts

This is the 7th in a series on revising my novel, following an on-line course back in 2015. Previous posts

My purposes for the on-line course #1 January 2015

Progress On-line course: my learning #2 January 2015

Progress On-line course: post course plans #3 February 2015

On-Line Writing Course #4 Revising Structure and Plot March 2015

On-Line Writing Course #5 Deadlines August 2015

What I write about when I am not writing fiction April 2016

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Filed under Books, Learning, My novel, Writing

15 Responses to Revising the novel again (and again)

  1. Just about to embark on my first novel in September, I’ve no guidance or tips other than admiring and agreeing wholeheartedly with the time you are investing in to editing and rewriting which often get scrimped on… fascinating posts that I’m finding very helpful Caroline.

    • Caroline

      Glad you found the posts helpful Poppy. Good luck with your novel. It can take a long time, but I think I have taken more time than most.


  2. Lynda Haddock

    Many echoes here for me Caroline. I’m agonising about every word, losing confidence, thinking about the -possible – next novel. The advice to ‘just turn up’ has never seemed more apposite!

    • Caroline

      Hi Lynda, Sound like you are fully into editing and revisions! Well done. I do hope you protagonist gets the attention she deserves.


  3. Eileen

    I’m full of admiration Caroline. As well as all the juggling you have mentioned, with the blog and all the other writing and reading you do, I know how committed you are to caring for your grandchildren, coaching, trips abroad, opera visits, walking and lots more.
    I have no guidance for the redrafting of your novel – never taken on such a task, but I’ m not sure you need advice as you have identified four key areas to focus on. Good luck with that.
    PS I loved yesterday’s Guardian Review – so many good things to read this summer and noticed that ‘Grief is the thing with feathers’ was mentioned twice and ‘The Vegetarian’ was there too.
    PPS I loved The Hollies. That song brought back so many happy memories of seeing them in London in the 60s and 70s.

    • Caroline

      Thank you for the encouragement, and the reminder that my life is full of wonderful things, even if writing does not always move as fast as I think it should.

      I agree about the Summer Reading. I have some on my tar pile, and some planned to read and now some new titles to put on the to buy later list.

      C xx

  4. Eileen

    And I should have added quilting to the list of wonderful things you do and gardening.
    And I could have added that I’m dying to do some more writing with you. x

    • Caroline

      Ah yes, quilting. Going slowly as well, because I only do it when it’s raining. I have mitred three out the four corners – so thank you. Indebted.

      And we’ll write again some day, soon perhaps.


  5. Caroline, your blog posts persuaded me to follow you on to the self-editing course last summer! I’ve been working on my novel in fits and starts since then and had managed to establish a good routine that fitted in with my working life until I suffered a bereavement in April. It feels too soon but also about time that I took up the threads of my novel again so this post chimes with how I’m feeling! It sounds that you know exactly what you have to do, and enjoy the process – I think it’s the most interesting stage and those characters will demand your attention! (Note to self for when I get started again – and I will!)

  6. I just think you’re very brave Caroline! Trying to write a novel has been one of the most psychologically challenging experiences of my life. I resonate with the advice to reveal more of the emotional state of the characters, and recall something I read (by Henry James, I think) about the author having to feel in even greater degree everything the characters go through: fear, joy, rage, despair, elation – and I’ve got to the end of the first draft! Good luck and I look forward to comparing notes over a cuppa sometime.

    • Caroline

      Thank you so much Jon. Somehow your comments are reassuring.It explains why it is all so difficult, and why this stage has specially hard challenges.
      I’ve been very moved by the comments of friends and subscribers to this post. It really helps me keep going.
      Hope to make that cup of coffee/tea soon.

      • I completely agree with Jon on novelling being a psychologically challenging experience – I have never before gone through the ups and downs that I have with this process. Reading about your experiences has been strangely reassuring, in that it’s let me know I’m not alone!

        • Caroline

          Thanks for this comment Riona. It certainly seems that many people find novelling really hard, and get comfort from knowing that others experience this too. I wish I could remember it when I am in the slough of despond!

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