Good novels, they say, aren't written, they're rewritten. Some writers do all their revisions in their heads before they begin, or subconsciously as they write. Their rough draft is their final draft. Those writers exist, but they're few and far between. Most of us have some clean©up work to do after we've typed "THE END."
Two tools you'll find helpful in revising manuscripts are: a notebook and a shelf. I keep paper handy to make notes about changes I need to go back and make; I'll think of a motive I haven't explained or a question I haven't answered – or that a character hasn't asked, although he should have. In SAGE, I found that I needed a handy way to indicate family affiliation, since I identified people by their mothers' given names rather than by their fathers' last names. So I made a note of that and, when I went back to the book after a summer vacation, I went through and plugged in the change. I would normally do that after I had finished the entire book, but I would normally finish the entire book during one school year, and SAGE ended up taking nearly twenty.
As for the shelf: It's a good idea to let a book "settle" for a while, so you can go back and read it objectively. Be your own critic.
Do any rewriting you think necessary after this cold reading and analysis. Then get out your notebook again.
After I've "finished" a book, I pass it around to several people whose opinions I value, along with a notebook, and ask them to make comments. I compare their comments; if several of them have a problem with the same thing, I figure I probably ought to change that. If different ones have different negative comments, I change the ones I agree with.
When your book is as good as you can make it this time, start sending it out.
The four Divine Animals are afoot: Dragon, Unicorn, Phoenix, and Tortoise – the Divine Creature who "forgets" the rules of right and wrong. Hold on tight.
Karol, the hereditary ruler of Layounna, vanished while hidden away with her lover, leaving her consort-husband to claim the throne. Shortly afterward, all the children in Layounna's orphanages also vanished. Ten years later, Karol's consort-husband claims an obscure young woman as a second wife, and she also vanishes.
The consort's mother and sister dabble in dark matters, including blood sacrifice and poison. Opposed to them are the country's "unimportant" folk, including a silversmith, a disgraced adept, a shapechanging thief, a couple of kitchen maids, and at least one cat.
SAGE, one book in three volumes.
Marian Allen, Author Lady