And lately some of the casualties have been a couple of scenes I always liked and a character who, honestly, sort of annoys me. But fortunately I’ve discovered a few foxholes, like a couple of scenes with a new character I like more than I expected, or a way to rearrange the plot in a way that both speeds up the lagging pace of the novel and also salvages what I liked best about my favorite deleted scene.
Another casualty of the revision process lately has been my confidence. I’ve been saying for years that I think this is my most readily marketable novel. This is the first one I plotted out in advance, and it has series potential but stands alone, and it does a lot of things I want the novel to do. AND I’m suddenly not sure that I’m doing it justice yet.
I’ve been vicious with this revision. I’ve looked at every scene and asked what it actually accomplishes, what purpose it serves, if it puts me to sleep rereading it. A lot of scenes have simply been slashed out of existence because of that last reason. And now I’m wondering: If, after 7 years of living with this novel and thinking about this novel, I have deleted about a third of it, what’s to say that after another 7 years of living with it, I wouldn’t realize another third of it needed to go?
This morning while I was doing some mundane stuff at my paying job, I got to thinking about the main conflict in my novel and started wondering if it’s really as compelling as I think. What if the "bad guys" are right? Will readers look at the situation and go, "You know, they have a point. Why IS it that way? Who actually benefits from this situation, and why shouldn’t they try to change it?" Because that’s absolutely NOT the reaction I want. But maybe I’m setting myself up for that.
It isn’t enough to tell a good story. I want the story to make sense. I want the conflict to tug at readers’ guts and make them root for the good guys. And suddenly I wonder if I’m doing that.