When I decided to write five new chapters for an already finished manuscript, I knew it would be a daunting task. Especially if those chapters are in a different POV from the majority of the book. After the initial thought had formed and had time to simmer, a little voice, the voice of doubt, stepped in and had something to say. I had not written one word of the new chapters, and I was getting, “It’s too hard; it won’t work; you’re wasting your time.”
I kindly told the voice to hush. With a won’t-know-til-you-try attitude, I stared at the familiar flashing cursor. A week later, I finished the rough draft of all five chapters. And I’m very glad that I did.
The chapters, like any first draft, need a great deal of work, but before I start polishing, I will be going through several steps to prepare these chapters so they can slide into the book. Think about it. If you decide to build onto your house, you can’t just slap some wood up and start painting. There is cutting, sanding, and other prep work needed before you can add this new room. The last thing would be the paint. For example, the first chapter slides in between existing chapters four and five. I need to work on passage of time, trying to keep things linear, the transition to each scene, and avoid duplication of ideas.
I’ve worked out an approach to help take each step at a time, because I find that breaking it into bite size chunks is much easier to swallow.
1) Before and after transition checks – I want to make sure sliding in and out of the second POV is not jarring, but is significant enough that the reader realizes immediately that the shift has happened. Stephanie Meyer did this in New Moon, and the first time I missed it, and was part way through the passage before realizing, Oh, we’re Jacob now. By Eclipse, I was right there with her. Even if you are remaining in the same POV, you must make sure that the transition is still smooth. This will lead to revising not just the new chapters, but the old.
2) Consistency and duplication checks – When adding brand new chapters, some things in previous chapters may change. You have to go through and make sure that you are not contradicting yourself. In line with this, you must also make sure that you are not duplicating ideas. When covering a story from multiple POV’s, you don’t want to tell the exact same story through both of their eyes, otherwise the POV switch would not be necessary. The second POV needs to bring something new to the table. For me, Adam Bristow sees the dark side of the story. He is down in the nitty gritty. While Felicity is clueless that the dark side even exists.
3) First Coat – Begin the polishing process. Cleaning up the echos, making sure action tags are there. Make the new chapters as strong as possible.
4) Voice consistency check – Now that the entire book is fairly shiny, I can go back and divide the book into the different POVs. I plan to go through each POV separately, making sure that the voice of the character remains true and distinct. This is especially true for Bristow. He is British, uses slang, and is male. I have to make sure that all of his chapters read with the exact same voice, and that they are unique, making them stand out from Felicity’s chapters.
5) Final Coat – Read the entire book, and revise once more. For me, revisions are normally a three part process: read and edit, revise, final read through. I always read through it after a round of edits because when making edits, I often leave a dangling period or something bizarre that does not belong.
6) Let it dry – Put the manuscript a way for at least one month, and go find something else to do. Draw the blueprints for the next novel. During this time, I often hand the ms over to critiquers. This go round, I will be searching for another reader, one who has not read it. More on this later. I’m thinking about doing a fair trade, so keep me in mind if you are looking for a critique.
Ok, I’ve run long. I’m hearing the Oscar wrap up song.
I’d love to hear any advice you have for adding to a finished ms. How many POV’s are in your current WIP. Have I lost my mind? (The last question was mainly for me.) I’m thinking about writing on some of the consistency checks that I’ve used in the past. Is this something useful to you?