The changes made to Sand of Bone were extensive enough I didn’t bother editing an existing digital version. I opened a new Word doc, set my handwritten scribbles of chapter overviews and notes and index cards on one side (more on those later) and a well-flayed printout covered in black Xs, arrows, and circles on the other. Then I started typing from word one.
To my great happiness, past feedback on the partially-revised chapters I’d sent to beta readers months ago was mostly positive, though some of the same going-forward questions were asked by more than one reader. First was the concern for the number of viewpoint characters. Second was my choice to open the novel with a certain viewpoint character.
Both are quite valid. I use seven viewpoints to tell this story. That’s plentiful indeed, and took much shuffling of Magic Index Cards to balance timing and interactions. But with a story that has five factions trying to meet different goals—and with those five factions rarely in the same place at the same time—five viewpoints would be the absolute minimum. A sixth viewpoint better defines what is at stake overall. And the seventh? Well, I could make an argument to cut it, but that’s the viewpoint bridging Big Plot with Internal Plot. And that character becomes very important in the next book, and the character is one of my favorites ever.
I think I made all seven work together. I think the story is better for each one. If I’m wrong, I’d rather work to find solutions than cut any one of those viewpoints.
That second concern… I struggled with it. I really did. Then decided to leave it as-is for this round of beta feedback. I’d like for it to work for readers because I like the way it works. But I’m probably the odd one out. We’ll see.
My real challenge in this round was integrated changes in world building. To me, some of those changes look as obvious as neon green patches stitched onto lavender calico. Is it because I’ve lived with previous versions so long that any change sticks out, or is it because my revisions skills are inadequate for the task?
And, of course, as I was falling asleep last night, I came up with a couple tweaks I could have made before sending for beta feedback. Notes have been written, but I’m determined to leave the danged thing alone until I hear from readers.
So… now what? Notes for the next book! Unlike Sword and Chant, which works as a stand-alone (though I’d like to write its sequel someday), Sand of Bone was always meant to be at least a trilogy, if not a five-book series. Plot and revision changes make it simple to edit and squish what was Book 2 and Book 3 into a single volume, but those same changes opened up the what-comes-next possibilities. Ideas I’d long ago set aside are now in play—not only for this set of characters, but other characters in the same world. I have my son to thank for that. He’s very good at listening to me lay out complicated plot and world building issues, then tossing out a simple, “What about this?” solution.
But first, I’m going to do the spring cleaning, and the spring seedlings, and the spring garden prep. After the winter we’ve had, I’m ready to air out the house and grow things.