MERC vs. BOOK: Revising A Novel, Part 0

Part 0 (you are here) | Part 1 (the begining) | Part 2 (what the book is about) | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7.1 & 7.2 | Part 8 | Part 9

Prologue: In Which Our Narrator Explains What This Post Series Is About

So. Novels. Stories with a lot of words, yes? Yes. And yes, I happen to have written a few, though I’ve been on a hiatus of noveling for a while. But while I may have written some novels (*cough*many drafts *cough*), but I’ve never seriously finished revising one.

Because novels are terrifying things, huge and toothy and full of eyes, and they lie in wait to devour unwary travelers.

How do you wrestle a novel-draft? How do you comb its fur free of thistles, polish its horns and claws, and teach it how to drink tea in polite company?

A novel is born through needle and threaded words, thousands of syllables sewn into shapes scavenged and built, old and new; a novel is pieced together in laboratories full of lightning and ambition; a novel comes to life with raw, untamed bolts of electricity siphoned from the aether and channeled through sheer will.  A novel can breathe on its own, if you start its heart and lungs.

If not properly guided, a novel runs wild and wrecks havoc–smashing down trees, startling the fauna, disrupting the local villagers.

But we all know the novel isn’t the monster of this story. It doesn’t know any better at first. You need to offer a hand, teach it, nurture it, show it affection and compassion. Don’t cast it out for its appearance.

When I finished writing The Collars We Wear, I made Frankenstein’s mistake and ran away from the newborn draft. It was too scary and I had no idea what to do with this creation.

Fortunately, the tiny novelthing didn’t follow the Creature’s arc, and I didn’t follow the doctor’s. We met up again, both nervous, unsure what to say, but wanting to make amends.


The novel had been dreaming in a drawer, where it was cool and dark and safe. It yawned when I gently pulled it out, and it looked at me, and inside the novel I saw  all these gorgeous angles and bright lines and sharp edges and I hugged it close and it purred in greeting.

“Want to visit the world?” I asked.

Yep, the novel responded. Let me get cleaned up and install these recent upgrades. I think you’ll like the look of them.

And it was true: the new ideas and clearer understanding of what I wanted with this book were enticing. The novelthing was confident, solid, and ready to set out on a new adventure. I was excited. Still nervous, of course–I mean, it’s quite a climb up through the drafty forests to reach the open fields where the novelthing can spread its wings and fly. But we’ll get there.

After I talked to some good friends about this novel, sent some doubtroaches scurrying, and made a firm decision that I would revise this novel, and do so by a specific date, I had made the first step (the hardest: beginning) and was ready to start.

This series of posts is simply a chronicle of how I’m revising a novel. It’s “live” essentially, and I have no proven formulae or process yet. I’ll fumble and stumble, have some wildly euphoric moments of realization, and probably do a lot of epic flailing. Like I said, it’s going to be an adventure!

Also I’m taking lots of pictures and keeping notes of what I’m doing so you can come along for the ride, if you’d like.

revise a bookWhere do we begin with project: MERC VS. BOOK?

With robots, bedtime stories, and thunderstorms.


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