When I started writing Theadia, there were certain names for places and destinations that I knew were important, but didn’t exactly want to spend a long amount of time obsessing over. There were also a few character names I felt were too similar so a few of them needed to be changed. For the place names there were a lot of “(NAME)” inserted. I know what I’m referring to from the context of the scene, so I didn’t bother focusing on that until I needed to.
As it happens, since I’m starting in on the New and Improved draft, I knew it was a perfect time to start filling in the blanks. The name changes are easy, just a quick Find/Replace with each chapter I work on. [Amusingly, I had a Dani, an Andy and a Dina in the rough draft, so two of them obviously needed to be changed right away.] And while I’m at it, I’m making a longhand list of these names — as well as certain points of reference, such as the color-coded flight teams some of them happen to be in — so I can work on the continuity while I’m at it.
This was something I taught myself when I was working on the Bridgetown Trilogy, and it’s worked wonders for me since: whenever I do rewrite/revision work, that’s the perfect time for me to work on the fiddly-bit details as well. Whether it’s a specific spelling of a name or their Space Force pilot ranking, it’s important to keep all of this consistent. I used to make notes of it during the very first rough draft, but over the years I realized that was kind of limiting me. What if kicking their piloting proficiency level up a notch makes a certain plot point later on more believable?
So essentially, the reason my rough drafts are always a mess isn’t always because of story issues; it’s primarily because I’m very fast and loose with them these days. I find I work a lot faster when I keep a consistent flow and focus on the story, and not worry too much about the details. By the time that version is done (or close to done), I’ll have a much better understanding of them and can just ‘fix them in post’ instead.
The great thing about doing this is that when I decided to start another draft reread after all this fiddly-bit fixing, is how unexpectedly great the updated version reads! It’s a pleasant surprise that I always look forward to, especially during scenes I’m fond or proud of. This is part of why I truly enjoy the revision process of novel writing!