More Revision

Posted by Unrepentant Escapist

June 18, 2009 -- 2:37 p.m.

I like Lee Ann's term for revising to plant clues and things. "Rearranging the mantle." That's a good one.

Anyway, the next step of revision I do is I retype just about everything. I open a new document side-by-side with my old one, or in another window, read a few pages, and then type up what happened. Often, I use the same words, but often I discover there's something even better.

The blessings of computers over typewriters is that we can go back and change things. While that's all well and good for minor changes, for major changes, I need to get my juices going and re-typing a draft helps me do that.

Right now, I'm remembering why it took so long for me to write the book in the first place. This prologue is the most difficult thing I've ever written. I was urged to slow it down and take all the time I need, but is anyone really going to put up with a 23 page prologue in the first book of a series? That's like 6,000 words before you get to the opening! There was a reason I shoved most of the scenes to flashbacks instead of trotting them out in real time.

That's the other thing about doing multiple drafts and saving them in multiple documents. If I don't like it, I can always go back to the version I had before. I probably will. Just because this prologue's better doesn't mean it's more salable.

On the plus side, I'm not going to hand a prologue in as my first set of pages/chapters to any agents/publishers anyway. So it really doesn't matter, right? If my editor wants me to slash it down, I give her the old version. Bulk it up? New.

If you haven't watched the Empires series, produced by PBS, it's up on hulu and I think it's well worth watching for any fantasy writers. I just finished watching the series on the Medici. Not only was it wonderfully produced (though I wished from time to time, that it would give more detail) but you can find a lot of political intrigue and conflict that can be fertile inspiration for your stories. For example, who'd have known that the works of Boticelli, Leornardo, Michaelangelo, etc. had so much political importance. I would like to write a story like Colleen McCullough's masters of Rome series set in the Italian Renassaince. However, I wonder, again, if it'd be salable? Especially since a lot of the main characters would, in this day and age, be registerred sex offenders for cavorting with their NAMBLA-age apprentices...

Michaelangelo in particular fascinates me. He was one of those crazy, difficult to work with geniuses who I empathize with myself since I too fall a little short in the social skills catagory from time to time.

And there's something about Renassaince paintings that I haven't seen matched. Compared to them, most other paintings look like they were formed out of cheap, colored plastic. I just love the art, the politics and the power of the mind unleashed in that age. So many interesting moments, from Da Vinci and Michaelangelo's fight over the block of marble that would become the statue of David to the birth of the Inquisition. I will write the story one day, I think, even if it molders in a basement closet. It's too powerful an age to ignore.

It makes you really understand Mussolini. Italy had the Roman Empire, the Renaissance, and yet it is nowhere near as prominent. You can understand where a mad dream to return to power could really take hold when your history so outshines your present. Nothing against present Italy, of course! I plan to visit there as soon as I scrape up the money. But it's hard to compete with such a fervent, powerful history.


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