The Tingle of Magic
Two months ago, I pulled out the manuscript for Book #2. I hadn’t looked at it in over five years. It was time to dust it off and start with the revisions.
I like to think that if I let my stories languish on a shelf or thumb drive, marinating for a number of years, they will get better with age. Sometimes it is good to let the magical vibes that went in to writing the story sit and simmer for a while before you read it again. I remember the premise of the story. I have a memory of the barest plot outline, but don’t recall the details. Yet, this is the story that has been singing a siren song and pulling at me for the last six or seven months.
So, how do you dive back into a world you haven’t visited for five years? Where do you start when you can’t even remember the characters’ names?
You start at the beginning.
I had waited an equal amount of time between writing and rewriting my first novel. Five or six years seems to be my instinctive timeframe for letting stories rest. I started the second book the same way as the first. I printed out my very rough draft and started rewriting from word one.
As I typed the words again, I made notes. Lots of notes. Each place that corresponded to a note got a big “XXXXXXXXXX” in the document file so I could find it again. This was the fun part! I let my mind wander and play, questioning plot points and character arcs, asking what ifs and letting my characters lead the way. By the time I made it to the end, there was a LOT of Xs! 🙂
Then came the real work. By rewrite #3, 4, 5, etc, I got down to specifics. I cut large chunks of narrative and rearranged scenes, renamed characters and places and focused on the overall plot and subplots. This is where I made the story bits from the first draft into a cohesive novel.
So what now?
Now, I work with my beta readers and polish polish polish to make the manuscript as clean and perfect as possible before sending it to my editor for the first pass. By the time it goes whisking off through cyberspace to her, I will have entire sections of it memorized. I will be so sick of my characters that I will happily take a few weeks away from them. Everything about the story will seem stale to me.
Months from now, when the third pass of editing is finished and I am ready to build the book, I will start to feel that magic grow again. When I get the final cover design in place and have formatted the pages for each type of e-book and print book, I will have butterflies in my stomach. When I assign an ISBN number, file for copyright and pick a release date, I will be basking in the glow of the story again.
This is how it happened before. It will happen again. This is the process of letting the magic take over, taming it, wrapping it into a package that I can share with the world, and then rediscovering that tingle again for myself. Perhaps this is why I let my stories simmer so long before rewrites. I know there will come a brief time where I will have to lose the magic I first felt when I spilled words onto the page. I will just have to keep reminding myself that the magic returns on the other side of the process. 🙂