I am in the process of doing the first round of revisions on a sci-fi space opera novel that I started a few months ago. I got the first draft done fairly quickly, as is usual. And now I am working my way through the first round of revisions. I will admit right here that I hate revising. It is my least favorite part of the writing process. I really enjoy drafting, and I don’t particularly mind proofreading. But I really, really do not enjoy revising.
I know a few authors who love the revision process. They are excited by the idea of filling out their story and all the good stuff that revising adds. And I get that. I mean, I know that revising is a necessary part of the process. Very few writers get it right the first time. First drafts can be messy and full of holes and unconnected bits. Revising is where you (presumably) fix all that. So, why is it my least favorite part?
Mainly because I tend to be a “lean” writer. By that, I mean I write with a rather spare, uncluttered style. That is also how I think of the story- main plot, goes from beginning, to middle, to end. Done. My first draft is, like many, the basic plot of the story, start to finish. Minimal world building, minimal fleshing out of detail, few or no subplots. So far, it sounds like exactly what a first draft is, right? Right. Except when it comes time to dig in and fill out those details, I am always a little lost. My brain is saying, “But it’s finished. We got in trouble, we figured out the problem, and we solved it. The end.” And that’s a great approach and a good goal for a short story. Not so much with a novel.
First of all, a novel is a lot longer. With a short story, you don’t necessarily have room for a lot of extra stuff to happen. You get in, get ‘er done, and get out. Readers expect more from a novel. They expect more detail, more character development, more setting, maybe a few subplots.
And then there is the old bugger- word count. Now, yeah, I know- don’t worry about word count. Tell the story that needs to be told. But. But- again, there is an expectation as far as the length of a novel goes. No, I don’t think the average reader sits down and actually counts the words in a story, but number of pages is relevant. I understand that. No one wants to pay novel price for a book that looks “short” even if the story is good, well-written, and complete. You know, that old “more bang for your buck” thing. And my first draft novels usually come in just at the bare minimum word count to be called a novel. So, lots of stuff needs to be added without watering down or losing the tightness of the original plot.
The whole process is hard for me. Trying to add enough detail but no too much. Gotta leave something for the reader’s imagination to fill in. Sci-fi and fantasy tend to require a fair bit of world building since the settings are often unfamiliar and strange and otherworldly. Urban fantasy may allow a bit less in this category, as those stories are often set in our world, which is already familiar. Characters need to be more than just puppets who act as directed by the writer holding the strings. Sight, sound, smell, touch are all part of how each one of us experiences the world, and the same should be true of the people in a story.
See? I get it. I know how important revising is for many reasons. I know you can’t have a good, finished story without it. I just have a hard time wrapping my head around some of that fleshing out. Some is easy. I read through a chapter and have notes jotted all through on development. Other times, I look at the words I’ve written and think I should add detail and expand on some things, but I am afraid it will be too much, and things will start to drag and get bogged down. Readers will get bored.
Revising is the one part of the process I truly struggle with. I think I am making a bit of progress because it seems each time I sit down to do a read through with revising in mind, I find more things that spark ideas on how to flesh out the story without bogging it down. I see subplots where there were none. I feel, smell, hear things I didn’t when writing the draft. It’s still hard, and I don’t know that I will ever love revising. But it is a vital part of the process, and one I need to work on.
All of my stories are discounted at Smashwords until July 31. Get ’em now while they are on sale!
Here are the books and relevant information:
When your family runs the mining operation on a planet that supplies a long-depleted Earth with needed resources, there are bound to be those who would like to see you fail. After five years away with the Interstellar Security Corps, Kaili is coming home after the death of her grandmother as a key participant in the ceremony to install her sister as head of the company and the ruling planetary council. She and her partner land in the middle of old resentments and new threats.
Like all of her people, Kaili is gifted with psi abilities developed over generations living in close harmony with their world- what outsiders see as magic. The ceremony investing her sister with her new positions will be a formal ritual, and Kaili, as her sister’s closest relative, will complete the binding Circle.
Accidents and unrest are growing in the mine operations, and Kaili and her partner, Jeff, uncover evidence that her sister will be formally challenged at the ceremony. When Kaili goes missing right before the ceremony, and returns with no apparent memory of the past few days, Jeff knows something is not right. He will need to use a little magic of his own to make sure Kaili is ready to face the family’s enemies. If not, it could mean both sisters’ lives.
“Circle Unbroken is an awesome mix of two genres, masterfully woven together into a strong story.” From a review on Readcommendations
The novel “Circle Unbroken” is on sale now through July 31 at 50% off its regular price of $3.99. Coupon code is PL25C
“Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy” by M.A. Kropp is a set of six short stories, set in varied worlds of magic and mayhem. Included are:
A Girl, An Elf, and a Shoe– An elf causes a mix-up the day before the big race
With Pen In Hand– A wizardly writer creates his own audience
Impish– An apprentice sorcerer lets the imp out of the bag- or box
Where Angels Tread– What if Heaven and Hell are more like The Sopranos than Seraphim? A noir style story in two parts, where a vital piece of Heavenly equipment goes missing.
Siren Song– A young accountant has an encounter with a mermaid and her companion and must think quickly to save his father.
Peepers– A young man visiting from the city finds the nighttime song of some tiny frogs irresistible.
“Six of One” is also at 50% off its regular price of $1.99. Coupon code is EW65A
A hundred years after Earth’s final environmental collapse, the human population is scattered, living in deep caves or underground to escape the heat and radiation that still ravage the planet. But some species adapted better to the changes. Sam, a genetically engineered lizard, is part of an ongoing program to discover what allowed his kind to evolve so quickly. Intelligent, able to communicate, and make decisions, is Sam a person or an experiment? When another survivor of the devastation threatens the promising food crops being developed, Sam may be given the chance to prove himself.“Survival of the Fittest” is FREE until July 31. Coupon code is WW27A.
The climate is ruined. Cycles of torrential rain and snow alternate with heat waves that make it dangerous to be outdoors for long. Most of the farmable land is either underwater from rising oceans or destroyed in the severe weather cycles. Food is in short supply, and Beni Oligowma controls the distribution of what there is in his local area. Grocery store owners Frank and his father have to live with whatever Beni decides is fair. And that usually means Frank can’t afford the best that’s available. When a university student returns home with an experimental method that may provide a new way to grow food, Frank is determined to help the system succeed, even if it means a confrontation with Beni.
“Feed My People” is a short story, set in a dystopian science fiction world, and is free without need for a code.