I have been busy revising my YA fantasy novel for the last month.
I came away from Viable Paradise wanting to strengthen the cultural and historic foundation for my world. I spent the first month doing research; I have been integrating the fruits of that research ever since.
It isn’t that I’m adding or changing that much, but each 10-200 word snippet has to be judiciously inserted, and then massaged to match the 2nd-4th draft quality of the rest of the work.
It is fun, but it is slow going.
I went through and tagged all the spots that I wanted to tweak. This last week, I have been bobbing up and down between having 27 and 30 sections to modify. That is down from about 50 at the start, but I seem to have hit the dreaded Editing Plateau.
Part of that is the tendency of the edits to proliferate: insert a detail about the city in section X. Realize that section Y should have further exploration of the same thing. Add section Y to the list.
Part of that is my reluctance to officially check off the changes. I go back and re-read each insertion. Edit. Tweak. Re-read. Allow it to rest. Come back. Re-read. Edit.
Some of them have been pretty easy to finalize. Others have been in draft form for several days, and will remain so for a little while. Inserting information while avoiding info dumps can be tricky, and I sometimes have trouble telling whether I have crossed the line.
That’s what beta readers are for, though!
My other struggle is coming up with substitutes for slang.
I love language, especially the weird mutt that is English, but some of my favorite words and phrases are too vividly vernacular to play in a fantasy setting. It is an interesting problem.
It is always a judgment call whether it is appropriate to use certain kinds of slang in a work of fantasy. If you view it as a translation, you have more leeway, but there is still a limit.
There were a number of terms or idioms that I used originally that I have now marked for substitution. In some cases I’m having trouble coming up with a reasonable/interesting substitute that will be easy to understand.
The one that is currently giving me fits is bigwig. There are lots of great (approximate) equivalents: high muckety-muck, big kahuna, nob, nabob, VIP.
None of them are remotely suitable.
So now I’m trying to come up with an equivalent that is actually appropriate for my story’s culture, that will be easy for the reader to pick up.
I’m toying with something based on military structure, armor, or weaponry, since the nobles in the country come from a martial culture. I could potentially go with a crossover term such as “brass”, which has the advantage of not being completely unfamiliar, but also comes with baggage.
I will probably wind up cutting my losses on some of the slang, either going back to the regular word (e.g. changing “green monster” to “envy”), or letting the real world slang slip through.
I’m hoping to finish up the current round of edits in the next week or two, so that I can put out a call for beta readers. We’ll see how I do with preventing the edits from proliferating. I have “finished” it before, surely I can again . . . ?