Here’s a question about an issue I’m starting to have with revision.
I’m currently revising the rough draft of my novel The Phoenix of Nova Terra. So far, I’ve just been cutting out unnecessary descriptions/wordage and rewriting some of the passages to make them stronger. Although I’m making a lot of changes, I haven’t really changed any of the larger story elements, such as character, plot, setting, etc.
Yesterday, I got to the point in my novel where Leila’s father, king Malek, makes his first appearance. Leila is a major viewpoint character, but her father is not. When I wrote the rough draft, I didn’t really develop him at all–in some ways, he was just a placeholder for the plot, a fatherly figure for me to use to develop Leila’s character.
But as I thought about his role in the story, especially his role in the first scene where he makes an appearance, the more interested I became in his character. Whereas some kings are tyrants, Malek is a cultured, diplomatic gentleman. This is all the more interesting because the world on which he lives has a very violent and tumultuous history. The more I thought about it, the more intrigued I became with his character–and interested in taking some time to flesh him out.
There are two problems with this, however. The first is that this novel is already too long as it is–check the sidebar. 165,000 words is really pushing it for science fiction.
Second, it would require…well…work. I mean, if I tried to add something in every time I see something new and interesting in my story, wouldn’t I be writing a different novel every time I revise it? That sounds…hard.
So my question is, how do I know when I can (or should) go in and change something fundamental to the story on the rewrite? Editing and deleting scenes is fine, cutting out or adding dialogue is not hard, tightening descriptions and viewpoint is fairly straightforward and not too challenging–but rewriting character, setting, or plot? That is a major overhaul.
How do I know what major elements to change, and how much? I want to have this draft finished before the end of this year, after all.