One important thing that toiling away in the revision mines has taught me is how lightly our characters are sketched. A line here and there, a word, a description, and the reader starts putting together a chain of clues as to who these people are. What they’re like. What they might do as the plot swirls around them. It’s a fine line, trying to provide enough of these clues to make sure that the reader can see the character clearly in their head, without feeling like they’re being bludgeoned by description.
This is both a blessing and a curse when revising. Right now, I’m trying to work with a couple of my characters, cleaning up their motivations, clarifying what’s driving them. The blessing is that I can do a lot of this with just a few tweaks. Change a sentence here, rewrite a bit of dialogue there, retune that bit of inner monologue. No need to rewrite chapters– well, not all of them at least.
The curse is I have to find all of those clues that I left behind in the earlier draft. Some I remember, but most of them are buried, hiding, interwoven with something else. Little things, just like they should be, and hell if I can remember where I left all of them. So now its reading and hunting, trying to find them all, and then decide what tiny tweak they need to make them line up properly. It’s a lot of fiddling detail, but if I miss any of them, or mess them up, it can throw off the whole story.
Little things are big things, sometimes, and a few hundred words out of a 100 thousand can make all the difference.
No wonder this is taking awhile.