The first step in revising my novel (and here’s where I admit that the revising has gone untouched for several days–oops) is analyzing each scene and its place in my novel. For me, this involves writing down each scene and the major action on an index card. Let’s look at the last scene I copied over:
Tuesday midday, Dr. B’s office
Dr. B has a message from her mother
Dr. B calls and [Grandma–main character’s grandma, Dr. B’s mother] tells about the pumpkin
[Dr. B] thinks it’s ridiculous, invites Grandma to county fair
End scene, indicated by white box
This scene may or may not be important in future rewrites; I haven’t decided yet. My character holds his family quite dearly to him, and this is revealed as the story unfolds. Unfortunately, it’s not revealed quite the way I’d like, and the story moves quite slowly in part because of it. There are also aspects of the story, such as my main character’s interest in art outside of pumpkin carving, that show up and could be even more important if I make other changes that have been floating around, the most significant of which is to make the character a year older. This would make him a senior in high school and would bring up a lot more questions: the future, the possibility of this county fair being his last, whether he would want to go to school far away from home, whether he would go to college right away in the first place–all kinds of questions I’ve been able to skirt not just by writing a first draft but by making him the age that he is.
Then there’s the biggest change and the main reason I’ve been making these index card scenes in the first place: changing the timeline. More specifically, shortening it. This novel already takes place in a little over a week, and I’m trying to make that time even shorter, if only because pumpkins rot fairly quickly and my character is a bit of a pumpkin snob, despite not being much of a snob in other areas of his life. (Seriously, he snubs another pumpkin carver for using store-bought pumpkins for the competition!)
And I haven’t even started analyzing each person’s character traits yet. Geez. It’s a good thing I haven’t started revising the prose. That’ll come, oh, after the second rewrite, assuming there isn’t a third rewrite before the desire to edit prose kicks in.