I spent the last week working on revising just the first 25 pages of my novel. I’ve been focusing on the “heart” of the story and I’m happy to report that I think I’ve found a pulse.
Let me give you an example.
I have a scene where a young version of my character is being picked on by her uncles. In my draft as it read last week, she was all cool and calm about it. After some delicate tweaking, she is vulnerable and scared. Now when I read the scene I get tense. Even though I of course know she pulls through just fine, I actually feel what my character is feeling. That must be a good sign.
Another thing I’m trying to do is give my character room to grow. I’m used to short stories, where my characters don’t have that much time (in terms of pages at least) to change. Realizing that I have hundreds of pages to let Talulah mature, has allowed me to go back and hone who she is at the beginning of the story – and, like in the scene I mentioned above, she starts out more timid. She may very well become a sassy bitch by the end (I don’t know yet), but she definitely doesn’t start that way.
So this approach of taking one 25 page chunk at a time and looking (scene by scene) for the heart seems to be working for me. I’m hoping to turn in fifty revised pages to my advisor next week. Hopefully she will feel the difference in the story. We shall see.