Tuesday 21st July 2020
Today wasn’t the most productive day. I’d intended to whip through all my final tweaks but a headache meant I wasn’t my most productive. I still managed to get through a number of the easier ones.
As I’ve previously mentioned, one of the things I’ve done to speed my editing / redrafting is to have an extra chapter at the end of my draft called ToDo.
Like many writers, as I write, I think of things I want to fix earlier in the novel. The gun on the mantlepiece might now need to be red rather than black to work in the scene I’m currently on. In this day of search and Scrivener scenes, it’s often a simple job to just find the original scene and change black to red.
But sometimes, I need something more complex. What if every time two characters meet, I want them to mention the importance of red, so when they reach the scene I’m now on, that connection leads to the red gun? That’s a bit more work and requires me to go back to every scene and plant those seeds.
In the distant past, I would have gone back to those scenes, written in the importance of red and in doing so, lost my mental place in the novel. Because I work sequentially, if the change was fairly impactful I’d find myself then working forward from that earlier point.
What I do now is make a note in the ToDo to say something along the lines of “make red of importance in conversations between X and Y”. I trust my future self and continue writing the scene where the red gun is revealed to be a major plot point.
What’s also helped is that I now outline my novels to such a degree that any changes that need to be made will be in service of that outline so are unlikely to be major novel breaking things.
When I get to the end of my draft, I go through my ToDos. It may be something simple like looking for every mention of the black gun and changing to red. Something like that can be changed amazingly quick.
Or, it can be going through the scenes where X and Y have a conversation and changing a line or even adding one with something to do with red.
Because I have my final readthrough, I trust that if anything breaks because of these changes I’ll pick it up then. That saves me from feeling the need to then work sequentially.
The area where I most fall down is emotional arcs. I’m constantly learning things about me as a writer and one of the things I’ve recently noticed is that I’ll rush emotional arcs. This may be because a lot of the work on this draft has been to do with emotional arcs and it’s brought this into focus.
If a character starts in denial about something and I have a character beat where it turns to anger, I’ll often find myself writing the character starting to get angry ahead of the beat. Sometimes this might be because the beat is in the wrong place. But often it’s because in writing towards that beat, my head gets ahead of itself and I’m not allowing time for the character to be in denial.
This draft has some clear emotional arcs, so one of the things I’ve got on my list is to clear up some of that rushing. Don’t forgive a character now, that doesn’t happen until chapter 27.
I have a few major bits left. I had a scene in one of the middle chapters which I wasn’t happy with. It was from a very early draft and as such it felt it could be punched up a bit. I also feel I’ve lost a bit of important worldbuilding so the plan is to rewrite this scene and fold in some of that worldbuilding.
I made a start on it, trying to make up for lost time earlier in the day, but it’ll have to wait until tomorrow. I’m eager to get to the final readthrough and get this draft out.
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