I've finished my second draft of my novel, finally. I chopped down the page number from 330 t0 278 (single-space 12 font), but upped the number of chapters from 16 to 19. I think I fleshed the characters out more, although in some cases it was most difficult. A few of the "how-to-write" books I've read discredit the notion that an author's characters can run away with the plot without the author's expression permission, calling it "twee" or "artsy-fartsy" and "how an author excuses bad characterization". That's not for me, I'm afraid. I like it when my characters branch off in directions I didn't expect. Here's how some of my characters fared during the 2nd draft revision:
-Kisaino (the Shining Empress character): She was the easiest to work with. In the novel, she is spoiled, foolish, selfish and headstrong, but as a character, she is the most obedient. She does exactly what I want her to do, and so she changed very little during the revision. I think it's because there is a lot of my personality put into her.
-Wild Bird (the female warrior character:) I changed her name from the tongue-twisting Torijiyu (which I got from looking up the words "Bird" and "Free" in my Japanese-English Dictionary), to Wild Bird. I eliminated chunks of her backstory, because I felt it would be better to introduce her past in bits and pieces to keep people reading. She was a little difficult - I wanted her to treat men with distrust, but it evolved into a deep-seated and irrational hatred of everything with a penis. Well, that wouldn't work, so I made her more restrained in the revision. She won't hesitate to punch Yang in the nuts when he makes a smartass remark, but now it's more due to the fact that they're always together, and know each other to a certain extent. She is now much less likely to knee a complete stranger in the nuts. She'll keep her prejudices to herself, and try to bury it beneath her sense of Dancer (warrior) honour.
-Yang (the outcast barbarian character): I tried to make him humourous in the first draft, and gave him chapters of tragic backstory and a vendetta to boot. That didn't work at all - it made him very dark, doubtful, and depressing, and even hateful at times. I wanted him to be cheerfully disturbed - not violently insane. So, in the seconddraft, he uses his humour to hide his sadness, and hides his barbarian heritage. His real name is Yang-Mah, but after getting permanently banned from the barbarian lands, he tries to throw his heritage away and try to live as a "civilised foreigner". He's also terrified of being alone and forgotten. He's still followed by the ghost of Kaede-Rih, his dead gal pal, and he still has a mission to kill the Emperor of Souka (whom he blames for his crappy life), but he's less determined to win as is he is to simply try, and is mostly convinced that he will be killed in the attempt anyway. This gives him a dark, sarcastic humour.
Plus, he's also somewhat lecherous.
-Clever Child (the child prodigy): I keep forgetting to put her in, because she keeps slipping into the background. Her original name was Lei-Lei, but with her Soukan heritage, I decided that each Soukan name would mean something, so she became known as Clever Child instead. She was not much changed, mostly because she insists on slipping below the radar. Her character in the novel is supposed to be loud, prideful, and bossy, but as a character, she's really shy and doesn't like to be included in scenes. Maybe it's because I turned her into a battered child in the revision.
-Shouji (the mysterious boy): my favourite character, I modelled him on the actors I tend to like - that is, he is thin, sensitive, and shy (or as my parents like to say, "wimpy and weaselly"). While he is very submissive and obedient in the first novel, in the sequel I'll reveal his dark secret, and that he forced himself to adopt a shy and frightened personality in order to keep attention off of himself. But he's still sensitive, but he'll grow a bit of a spine in the second novel. For now, he remains a timid character.
-Kiboshei (the bad-boy brother): Okay, first of all, I'm making it MUCH less obvious that he's evil. In the first draft, I had all these scenes with him that were basically "Ha, ha, ha, here is my master evil plan! Look at how evil I am! And nobody knows but me! Ha ha ha!" or "Look what the good guys have done now! Drat! I'll do this instead! This is the revision of my master evil plan!" In the 2nd draft, I've eliminated those self-indulgent scenes - the reader will find out gradually the extend of his bad-ass-ness.
-Tando (the wise mage): I made him less perfect. He was a wise guru in the first draft, but in the second, he is still good-intentioned, but a great deal more manipulative and power hungry.
-Koriyasu (the mistress of the mage-school): I turned her from hard-assed to Racist and Abusive. She doesn't just make her bad students work, she beats the crap out of them. And, with the foreign Clever Child, I made her positively sadistic. Outside of the mage-school, she does have her positive political uses, but I'm still thinking up ways for her to receive her proper come-uppance.
There are other stages I must go through, however, before I can fully complete my work. My family members will read it, and I'll post a few chapters on my Fantasy Writers Forum, and I'll write more short stories to get some writer's cred for myself so that I can get an agent to help with my novel. So there is still a lot to do, but I'm one step closer.