Saturday, 13 June 2015

Talks editing...

Yup, that's what I've been doing since the 15th of May...and there's plenty more to do!

I didn't quite make my self-imposed 3-months-away-from-novel, but I did manage just over 6 weeks. Then the itching just got too much, and I had to pick up my red pen and scratch it...

While scratching (this metaphor is getting a little gross, now, isn't it?! Oops.), I decided to test out a new method of editing - at least, new to me.

With Book One, I line-edited and line-edited and line-edited, zooming in on the tiniest of details, but somehow never thinking to look at the overall effect, or to do this first before I wasted time and energy on a section that I should delete anyway...

But I have done that this time, for Novel Number Two.

I got myself a hard-back spiral notebook (any excuse for new stationery, eh!) and started reading my manuscript. From beginning to end, with no line-edits at all.

Okay, okay, so there were some line-edits, but only quick, didn't-have-to-mull-them-over-ones! Fact: It is impossible for me not to have a pen in my hand. Anyhoo...

When I got to the end of each chapter, I wrote notes on what worked, what didn't; what should move to another point in the storyline; what needed to be Shown, not Told - and sometimes what needed to be Told, not Shown (detail gets very interesting for me, but no so much for anyone else...); whether the characterisation was working; whether I even needed certain characters; and so on.

At the start of this process, I was in agony. The book was awful, of course; how could I have written such drivel? And then I got over myself. Everything needs work to be the best it can be - from baking to Olympic Sports. Simples. So I got to it.

Once, I said to a friend that the beginning of the book is actually the last thing you write - and this, for me, is true: it is only when my characters are on the page speaking and doing and interacting with other characters and situations that I know them; that I know what is authentic for them, and can convey this accordingly.

Reminding myself of this, I set about redrafting the first two chapters: fresh documents, typing anew, no copy-and-pasting. Then I read my Overall Notes alongside the red-penned manuscript, and worked through the relevant points, making changes here and there (pretty much everywhere, actually).

Now I can see that while the Overall Read-Through was slow-going (especially to an impatient soul like me), it has earned its keep: after all that work, the beginning of the book is now much sharper, stronger and effective.

All I've got to do now is to make sure the twenty-or-so other chapters do the same...!

Better get back to it, then!

~ ttfn ~