Friday 26th March 2021
I’ve been working away at editing 4S today. Nothing really exciting to report on that front because (thankfully) it’s not needed a lot.
This was a book I wrote in a rush. I think it might have been a NaNoWriMo project and the work I’m currently doing, highlights the downside of that.
I have a lot of repeated phrases. It’s almost like my brain thinks of 3 ways to say the same thing and then writes all 3. Each offers a little something different so often it’s about taking the best of each of them and combining into one. Maybe one has a good verb, another has a good simile.
The other thing I’m noticing is when I’ve written when tired. I’ll make more mistakes and a lot of them rookie ones. I’m OK with that. The first draft is to get the story down, editing is the stage to actually fix that. But it means picking them up. I’ve butchered some phrases and used wrong spellings for words.
Another thing I’m often guilty of is going off on a tangent. I wrote the start of a really great NaNoWriMo novel one year but then (for some reason) went into this big long flashback of the main character as a boy travelling with their father on a horse and cart where NOTHING happened. Perhaps I’m a better writer now. I obviously outline which stops those 30,000 word detours, but I still worry about it at a micro level.
For instance, there’s a scene I edited today where the main character is having a bad time, is restless and goes on their computer. They buy something that will help them later in the book and reflects their growth as a character so that stays. They also look at the news online and get information to move the plot along. But there was also a piece where I went on about looking at social media. A lot of this was going over their thoughts about a person – which we’d gone over before so needed to be cut. But I also cut a bit about someone posting a public picture of them. I cut that too.
Except… I get to the next chapter and it turns out that someone seeing that picture is a major plot point. So I had to go back and put some of it back.
I have a document open where I list all my overarching worries. I think I’m better at it now, but at the time I wrote this first draft I wasn’t very good at making definitive statements. I’d write “Bob thought he could see elephants on the horizon” when what I need to write is “Bob saw elephants on the horizon”. I’m hoping I’m catching instances of this although you can see instances of this even slipping into The Climb when I’m tired or rushed.
So my document lists all those choice words to search for: could / should / thought / perhaps / Maybe. The plan is to do a search for them once I’m done. Some will be legitimate and should stay. Others have been missed and can be cut.
I also add plottish things to my document.
- Is something clearly defined in the opening chapters?
- This word needs to be universally replaced everywhere.
- How old is the child, and do they act that age?
I have no template for this. Each document is unique to the novel and gets added as I go along. Basically, anything that makes me want to stop editing and go back, gets added to this list for the next pass.
This manuscript will have a lot of editing passes, some more complex than others, some focusing on different and specifics things, but the aim here is to get something I can send off for comment.
I’m desperate to get it done, but I also need to do it properly.
And untangling some of those butchered phrases takes longer than you think.
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