I just finished one of the longest, hardest editing tasks I've ever undertaken.
Several months ago my writing group reviewed the third chapter of my epic, Gods Among Men, entitled …Warns the Ruling Circle,….
They weren't enamored. I received a long, long, list of recommended changes. I would like to have ignored their suggestions, but that would defeat the purpose of the group. Besides, they were right about the problems.
I spent a couple of months just staring at the list. Making the changes required to address the problems was a staggering challenge. It required snapping the chapter into pieces and reconstructing it almost from the ground up. Characters had to be reworked and scenes completely altered. Finally I bit the bullet and ripped the chapter into pieces and put it back together one word at a time.
For a minor chapter this would have been a tall order, and …Warns the Ruling Circle,…. is no minor chapter. It is the chapter where I introduce the characters who occupy the hero role in my story, and first reference the character who will be the principle villain. This chapter has to work.
(I know, "What was I doing in the first two chapters if not introducing the heros of villians?" I was introducing the protagonist and the anti-hero. That is a subject for another post.)
I must admit, the group, as usual, was right. The reworked chapter is far stronger. It will likely need another editing pass, but I doubt it will need another wholesale makeover. It still has the elements I need for later in the story, but now it reads like something close to a finished work. There are passages that make me feel proud as a writer, including some that wouldn't exist if I hadn't been pushed into making these changes.
Now I need to get to work on their suggestions for chapters 1, 2, and 4.