Revisions Process–Mid-Level Revisions

This is the third post in my series about how I’m revising and resubmitting my novel in response to a R&R request from an agent. My first post was about how I made myself a schedule to live by, and my second post was about reading my old manuscript.  This post is going to be about the next step in my revisions process: mid-level revisions.

Since I taught myself the way not to do revisions on my first time through revising the plague novel (hint: don’t start at page 1 and try to slowly work your way through fixing everything), I’ve discovered that there are three types of revisions I should try to make:

1) macro-revisions–large-scale overhauls of plot and character

2) mid-level revisions–emphasizing aspects of character and story, fixing foreshadowing, etc

3) micro-revisions–fixing language and typographical errors

Because the Plague Novel isn’t on its first draft, there weren’t any macro revisions I wanted to make.  For instance, on my second pass through my presubmission revisions (which really should have been my first pass) I decided to change the ending and add a secondary character.  I don’t really have any of those to do this time.  At its core, the novel is staying how it is.

But my revisions list did have several mid-level revisions on it. For instance, I wanted to emphasize certain aspects of Robbie’s character and build more empathy from him from the beginning of the story, and I wanted to make the mechanics of the specific plague more apparent.  I also decided to combine a couple of characters, foreshadow the events of the first pinch point more, and overhaul a scene toward the late middle.

Of course, the adage “show don’t tell” applies even more so to targeted revisions than it does to writing the story in the first place: I needed to get this information across without info dumping.  Especially the information about the plague mechanics.  It would have been very easy to just throw in a few maid and butler dialogue sequences about how the plague worked into the first chapter, for instance.  But “easy” doesn’t make an interesting read.

I decided to add a prologue and do major overhauls of a few chapters.  The beginning chapters in the novel were particularly heavy on mid-level revisions, and ended up being where I spent most of my time on my first major revision pass for this revise and resubmit.  The mid-level revisions tapered off as I went through the book, both because creating empathy and setting explanation are front-loaded types of things and because as the book went on it got better overall.

Because these revisions were direct responses to the agent’s feedback, they took a large amount of time, thought, and energy.  From the preliminary beta responses I’ve already received, the changes to the beginning are very successful.  I just hope this agent (or a future agent, if she decides to pass) feel the same!

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