I’m in the process of revising parts of my novel, a contemporary romance. I wouldn’t say they are major or extensive, but I am adding in some additional scenes after getting feedback from some beta readers. This novel has been in the works for over a year and a half. Sometimes I like to look back at where it started and see how far it has come.
It’s been through several major revisions since I first began writing it, including changing approximately 40,000 words (I hadn’t completed the manuscript yet at that point) from first person POV to third person. That was quite the chore, but well worth it. I had always been much more comfortable writing in first person, but I think third person suits my story much, much better. It’s told through two different viewpoints. I hadn’t been sure if the voices were distinct enough, so I flexed my writing muscles a bit and rewrote the first chapter for third person, and had my mom beta read both versions. She said the third person POV version was much easier to read and flowed better, so I made the decision to rewrite everything that I had written so far.
I was looking at a very early version of the first chapter. I’d like to share the very first scene in its earliest form versus what it is today.
How it is now:
It was a Thursday evening, just after the start of the new year. The sun had set, stealing back any of its residual warmth long before Kylie had turned the stove on to cook dinner for Catalina, her best friend. She gave the beef and peppers a poke in the sizzling pan and padded around the corner into the living room to the bookshelf. As Kylie sifted through a stack of CDs, all of them arranged in alphabetical order by artist — Adele, Fleetwood Mac, Imagine Dragons — Catalina flopped onto the sofa, balancing her overfilled glass of boxed red wine before it spilled on the pristine cream-colored sofa. “So, Kylie, I totally forgot to tell you,” she said before taking a long sip. Kylie nodded, still sifting through the CDs until she popped Blame by The Relief, a contemporary pop-rock band, into the stereo. “What?” she asked as she rounded her way back into the kitchen, bouncing as the upbeat melody started. “Remember that guy I met for dinner on Monday? What a jerk. Seriously, this is why I hate those stupid dating websites.” “I told you signing up for that site was a bad idea, Cat,” Kylie said, shaking her head as she poked at the pan again. Cat took another long sip of wine, waving dismissively at the smug remark. “He was worse than a cow, chewing with his mouth open and obnoxiously loud. It was gross. And he played on his phone the whole time.” Realizing her glass was empty, Cat hopped up and pranced into the kitchen. She peeked over Kylie’s shoulder at the stove. “Smells good. How’s Slick at the office, by the way?” “Oh, please,” Kylie said, scrunching her nose and mimicking vomiting. “Don’t even get me started.” Cat refilled her glass before pirouetting into the living room, dancing as she turned the music up, her long brunette waves swirling around her with every turn. Kylie hummed along to the melody as she filled the plates and set them on the small round table in the corner. Cat sat down, wasting no time in digging in. “I’ve got a surprise for you, by the way,” she said between mouthfuls. Kylie chewed slowly, carefully keeping her eyes down on the plate in front of her. She remembered Cat’s last attempted surprise; she had ended up locked out of her own apartment with no shoes. She glanced up to see Cat grinning, her brow wiggling over her gleaming brown eyes. “I got us tickets to the concert tomorrow.” “The Relief concert?” Kylie blurted out before biting her tongue. Cat watched as she took another slow, deliberate bite. Kylie’s collection of The Relief t-shirts, all depicting various album covers, hung carefully in the back of her closet. Both her mother and Cat had given her several shirts for her birthday and Christmas three years in a row. But Kylie’s nerves already began to jitter at just the thought of being forced into such a crowd. “I don’t know, Cat.” “You are such a loser,” she said as she flung her crumpled napkin across the table. Her scowl turned into a pout as she stuck out her lip. “Come on! It’s even your favorite band. You never get out.” “Yes, I do,” Kylie said, chucking the napkin back at her. “We’re already going to surf at The Washout Saturday morning. If we’re up too late tomorrow, then we’ll be too tired to get up early Saturday morning, then the beach will be crowded by the time we get there. And I was planning on going to Mama’s house after work tomorrow.” “I mean you never get out socially.” She paused, glaring as Kylie took a sip of wine. “The concert doesn’t even start ’til eight-thirty anyway, so you’ll have plenty of time to visit her before. And I promise, cross my heart and hope to die, I won’t bug you for a long time to come out with me again if you agree to go. This is the perfect excuse to get out of the house, and to somewhere besides the beach.”
And here’s the very early version of the same scene:
“Oh my God," exclaimed Cat, my best non-family friend. We were sitting on the black sofa in the living room of my modest apartment, with its mint green walls contrasting the tan carpet. A CD player sat on the windowsill with discs piled in neat stacks beneath it on the floor, all in alphabetical order by artist. A small table, adorned with a small vase of perfectly arranged and freshly watered flowers, with two wooden spindle chairs sat in front of the kitchen. It was a Thursday evening, which equaled a girl night. Every Thursday, we took turns cooking dinner and drinking cheap boxed wine while we bitched about various topics and gushed over celebrities. "Oh my God what?" I asked over the rim of my wine glass. "I went on the most disgusting date Monday night. The guy was a total jerk. I mean, seriously, this is what I get for meeting guys online." "I told you that online dating was a bad idea," I said, unable to hide the superior tone in my voice. She ignored my comment and plowed on with her rant. "He was the loudest chewer I have ever met. It was like going on a date with a cow or something. Ugh. And he kept playing on his cell throughout dinner. So rude." She shook her head and speared an asparagus with her fork and munched on it. I took a sip of strawberry wine. Cat continued, "How's Mr. Slick at the office?" "Oh lord, don't even get me started," I groaned. By Mr. Slick, she meant one of my sleazy coworkers, Bruce. He had an annoying habit of popping up at inopportune times and tossing cheesy pickup attempts at me. He would be a decent looking guy if he didn't have is hair slicked back over his greasy head. Cat laughed. "Anyway, so tomorrow is The Relief concert. I saved us tickets because I know you want to go," she said, a grin growing on her lips. I held back the groan that was about to escape. "Kylie Lewis, you loser!" She must have read my face. “What? I just don’t feel like going out this weekend,” I groaned. The truth was, I never felt like going out any weekend. "Going out" really wasn't my thing. Besides, it had already been a long week in the newsroom, where I worked as an advice columnist for a local newspaper. “Come on,” she implored. “It’s even your favorite band. You’re not excited about that fact, even a little?” She stuck her lower lip out, pouting, and giving puppy dog eyes. I glared at her; I hated when she gave me big, chocolate brown puppy dog eyes. Cat, short for Catalina Gomez, was strikingly beautiful. She had long brunette hair that flowed over her shoulders, and curves in all the right places. I, on the other hand, was thin with very few curves. My sandy blonde hair was as straight as my figure. I was envious of her beauty. “A little,” I admitted, “but I was kind of hoping to go visit Mama.” The truth was, The Relief was my absolute favorite band in the world and they would be here in Charleston, at the Charleston Performing Arts Center and I was more than a little excited. But I hated concerts. They were all so crowded with the blaring music pounding in your ears and getting groped on by drunk guys. Cat knew that all too well. She worked at the CPAC as a ticket seller, so she was allotted so many free tickets and was an avid concert goer. But again, I hated crowds, and mostly I just wanted to visit my mother. Every Friday, I went to Mama’s house for coffee. I loved Cat dearly, but she wasn’t the kind of listener my mother was. Cat tended to be loud and unfiltered. It seemed every other week she was interested in some guy she met at a bar or online. I particularly disliked the online part, as you never know who’s on the other end, and I voiced this opinion frequently. “Please please please,” Cat continued to beg. “Visit your mom before the concert! It doesn’t even start until eight-thirty anyway. You have plenty of time to visit beforehand." "I don't know, Cat," I said reluctantly. "You know I hate crowds. They're so noisy and overbearing. It's sensory overload for me." "I promise, cross my heart, I won't bug you for a long time to come out with me again if you agree to go. You never get out, Kylie. It's about time you did and this is the perfect excuse to leave the house." "Alright, fine, but I don't believe your promise. A long time for you means two weeks, tops." She squealed and clapped her hands, bouncing in her seat. "You are going to have so much fun! I can't wait!" I grimaced and took a big swig of wine.
Currently, I only have a working title: Two Beat Adagio. I haven’t decided if I like it enough to keep it. I wanted to reference music terms since music is part of the storyline. I’m horrible at coming up with titles. Suggestions on coming up with them?
What do you like to do when revising? Does your manuscript go through several rounds of beta readers? Do you have any revising “rituals” you like to do? Would love to hear your thoughts!