Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Working well

I have made pleasing progress on the editing front. I have gone through 363 pages out of 408. Hopefully I will be done by the weekend so I can start making those changes to the electronic copy of the book and begin the re-writes.

There are not too many passages that need re-writing, although there are quite a few areas where I wish to expand the text. This is dangerous and will certainly go against the Stephen King rule of: 2nd draft = 1st draft – 10%. The question is, was my 1st draft long enough? It is a dilemma but a happy one.

I suppose when I look it, as things stand the novel is coherent and tells the story fine. The areas I wish to add in merely make the characters richer. Is this essential or are the characters lively enough as it is.

On an unrelated note, my boy has contracted gastroenteritis. He is so poorly it is heartbreaking. I thought I know what a loose bowel movement was, but it turns out after a couple of days changing liquid nappies I was wrong!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

First draft to second draft to third draft

I am making good progress on the editing front. I have now edited the first 267 pages of the story (there are 408 in total). The question that bothers me is: when does a second draft become a third draft?

At the moment I am going through the story with a nice red pen, taking out chunks of text, or tidying them up. In the margins, I ask myself questions such as: If Character A thinks this, is it reflected later on? In some cases I answer these questions, in others I wait until I will re-write those scenes that need it. So when I have completed this process for the entire book and made the amendments on the computer, does that constitute a second draft? Or will it only be once I have inserted the re-writes too?

As I write this, it has occurred to me the answer is obviously the latter of the two. Only when I have the story completely finished will that be the second draft. Still you can see the workings of the mind of a virgin editor.

The other thing that has struck me over the past week is how much I am actually enjoying the story. There are times (and this is going to sound unbelievably corny), where I actually forgot I was editing and just enjoyed the story. I really hope others get that sense of enjoyment.

Finally, a lot of authors talk about the editing stage of writing as a completely separate process to the creative side. I couldn’t agree more. When I was writing the book my mind was going ten to the dozen as I desperately typed the story as it unfolded in my head. I could easily sit and type non stop for two hours at a time. With editing, I just can’t do that. At most I have to do it in half hour chunks before my brain becomes fried with all the analysing. I find myself taking long breaks in between until I am ready to return to it. This is fine I guess, as long as I am disciplined enough to come back to it!!

Editing tip 2: Be disciplined, but know when your brain is fried.

Monday, March 8, 2010

First week of editing out of the way...

…And I have to say it is both exhilarating and depressing at the same time. On one hand, I am really enjoying cutting out the needless words, the pointless exposition and the “what was I thinking by including that” text. On the other hand, it is so disheartening to see just how much of the novel I am unhappy with.
I expected to edit lots at the start of the novel where I was finding my voice, but some of the early chapters are woeful. I thought I would find it hard to cut parts out of the story, but I have had no trouble eliminating virtually a whole chapter.
In many ways it is a good thing. Every cut I make, every inconsistency I come across will make the novel that bit better. So why am I unhappy? The parts I am unhappy with largely focus around the scenes involving a main character. I’ve written him so badly and so weakly that as things stand he has not got an identity. I am going to have to do a lot of re-writing around him.
As things stand I have edited 140 pages out of 408. This is just basic chopping and pruning. Once I have completed this, I will go back and do all the re-writes. I was secretly hoping I would only need to do two drafts of this novel. I realise I was kidding myself; this novel will need at least another pass after I’m finished this editing process.

Lessons learnt: Editing takes a lot longer than you think and there are no short cuts.