Shop Talk: Revisions–the read through pandemonium

A friend of mine loves to imagine my office crowded with the characters in the novel-in-progress, an armored knight awkwardly shoe-horned between King Edward in all his regalia and an elegant noblewoman with a  ship at full sail as an awesome headdress.  So she asked whether my office is emptier at the read through stage, as I’m making notes toward a revision and incorporating my two first readers’ comments. Hah! Far from it.  Now the crew are competing for my attention, each one desperate to convince me of her/his crucial role in the book, campaigning for more point of view scenes, threatening to do violence to me if eliminated or severely pared down.

Yesterday it was Dame Maud Montague, Abbess of Barking. At one time I’d envisioned her role as quite substantial, and when I’d cut it down I’d left in a rather lengthy introduction to her which is now out of proportion to her significance. She was righteously indignant, loudly so. And then there are the first-name-only characters, like Guy in Galaxy Quest who just knows he’s going to die because he has no last name, clamoring for surnames–for good reason–the majority of them do wind up cut or consolidated. Today I’ve reached the point at which I’ll be expanding some scenes. I welcome a quieter day.

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