Tag Archive: editing

So, as well as the A to Z challenge, which was very successful, I was also trying to complete a Camp NaNo during April, because all these things happen in the same month, and I am some sort of sadist for trying to complete everything at once.

I set myself what I thought was a reasonable goal, half of the normal word count, 25,000 words. Because during NaNoWriMo in November I can easily hit 75K plus, so 25K when I’m doing another challenge sound reasonable, right?

Yeah, didn’t happen so much.

desk_head_bang_gif_by_nino_umaka-d5xdbjuTurns out, editing takes a lot more work that writing the first draft. At least, that’s what I am experiencing.

See, when I write a first drafts, I am pantsing it. I spew out words onto the page, make things up as I go, occasionally write down brief notes when flashes of inspiration hit or I really need to remember something for a future part of the book, but mainly it’s my fingers on the keyboard, and away I go.

Editing I have to keep stopping. Keep thinking. Keep going over to google and finding facts. Making it realistic as well as imaginative. Double check that everything is consistent. It’s actually far more work, thinking about characterisation, setting, plots. Do I need to keep this scene, this paragraph, this line, can it be rewritten, what does it add?

It’s hard work!

I only ended up doing 7,759 words this month. Which, you know, is way more than I started off with. I’ve gone from page 6 to page 25, not even half a chapter to chapter 3 and a bit. It’s a very slow work in progress.

Excruciatingly slow. And yeah, I could sit down and chain my butt to the chair, and I probably should at some point, but editing is really hard mental work, and I’ve actually got a fair bit of that going on at the moment. Doesn’t help that this week has been the worst. Not monday of course, the bank holiday was excellent, but the Monday masquerading as Tuesday and today have been fairly awful. So all I want to do is go home and put pets in tiny cages to battle for my amusement. Don’t worry, they’re all digital. I’ve been catching pets like a mad thing in WoW.

But I’m going off track. April was an excellent month from the blogging point of view, not so much from the editing one however. Let’s try again this month, and next month, and several months for the rest of the year, until it gets done. Anyone joining me in the editing slog?

P.S. I did treat myself to this awesome t-shirt from Camp merchandise – it’s super soft and lovely! It’s a compass, with all the points pointing at the word WRITE.


Precious Time

So yesterday, around the time I had half an hour between coming home and starting the raid (2/7 Heroic, yes!) I thought to myself, it seems that I have very little time for stuff these days. I mean, all the activities that I do that take up my time are things that I want to do, but when do I actually have free time?

So I made a spreadsheet to work it out.


So the white space is time that I actually have free. I mean, the Orange parts, where I’m walking to or from work, or getting ready for bed, don’t take me the whole hour, so I have a little more time than represented. And of course some things, like LARP, roleplaying and tabletop don’t happen every week.

But it just made me think. On an full week I have 36 free spaces. And let’s be fair, being a lazy person I can spend quite a lot of those weekend spaces sleeping. I’s my one true vice.

The reason I’ve been thinking about this is that I’m currently editing my novel. Currently I am doing this with comments in the word document. But honestly? I really want to get out my highlighters, coloured pens, and start marking the paper copy I have printed out up. I just really want to feel the paper and pens in my hands. It’s almost like a craving.

However the problem with that is I need to be at home, with my folder and highlighters and pens. And from the graph above, you can see that it’s a bit of a rare thing. Admittedly, I could have done a lot more on Monday/Tuesday, but instead me and my boyfriend were playing Pokemon. He’s got Omega ruby, I’ve got Alpha Sapphire. We beat up the elite four and the champion. It was epic, but I digress.

timeFinding time to do things is hard. And given the past week, it is very easy for me to just flop on the sofa and then not get up again until bedtime (Being on a VLCD isn’t helping with energy levels either). What I need is a little more discipline to find the time, it’s the same thing as it was with NaNoWriMo. The work will get done when I make the time for it at home. This may mean I don’t get to read that book, or play Pokemon. But even if I can just squeeze in a half hour everyday, that’ll make a difference.

Of course it would make a big difference if I just did it on the computer, but considering I can’t have the food I’m craving at the moment, I’m in no position to deny this writing craving.

You’d think after finding the time to write a novel it would be easy to keep finding the time to continue and edit it. But apparently not. Oh well, I think I can squeeze in a hour before kickboxing today, and this weekend is looking rather clear as well. So if I can get my butt into gear, I should be able to get quite a bit done.


8353367421_aeccd25e82_zI finally did it.

After waiting out the year, reading my books on novel crafting, and, let’s face it, putting it off because people say that gaining distance from your novel is a good thing, I finally did it.

I made a copy of my novel, called it draft two, and opened it to start editing.

And I’ll admit, I am nervous about it. Frankly, I think that’s a good thing. Being nervous means I care, but considering I’ve only ever finished one novel before, and that’s in editing itself, I’m really not experiences at this whole editing lark, and I’m worried I’m going to fall into the trap of doing the wrong sort of editing.

Having just learnt about the different types of editing (Content Editing, Line Editing, Copy Editing, and Proofreading) I think that it would be very easy to fall into the trap of doing it ‘backwards’ as it were. Indeed, with Archmage, the second draft I did contained a lot of Copy Editing, and not nearly enough Content Editing.

It’s easy to look at the small scale stuff, to look at the lines, word choices, grammatical errors and so forth, but having just refreshed myself with all the knowledge contained in my bookshelf, it really is the thing that you should be doing last. Or at least, not first. First you need to look at the story, plot holes, character arcs, thread, tensions, pacing, consistency, and all the other big picture things. Before you work on the little pieces, you need to make sure that the whole makes sense. And it is hard, at least I find it hard, to make myself focus on doing that instead of nitpicking at the word choices in sentences.

But it does make sense. You need to fix the big things first, and having just opened up my novel for the first time in a month, it does need fixing on the big scale. I’ve already marked the first scene for deleting because although it’s nice, it does nothing and really is just filler. The one good conversation from those four pages can kick the book off instead, and I really do need to work on the first line. It’s rather weak. And all this is from just ten minutes of reading the opening chapter.

automatic-scalpelBut you know what? Even if it is hard, I’m actually looking forward to doing it. Because it means that I care about my novel enough to beat it into shape. To go back and murder it in places to make it the best that it can be. And it is new, and exciting, and nerve racking, but I really do think I’ve got something good going on here. It can be better, but that’s basically what editing is.

Any thoughts, feeling or tips that any of you want to share about editing? Whether you, like me, are very new to it, or an old hat, I’d love to hear about it.

Murder your darlings

~Arthur Quiller-Couch

Today we move onto the second/third/fourth/however many revisions it takes of the creative process. We’re talking about editing.

Stephen King’s On Writing has the advice that he was given as a young boy: Second draft = First draft – 10%. Which is great advice, except that I’m currently fixing some plot holes and developing plot lines, which is only adding to my novel. In a big way. When I’m happy with everything with the plot, characters and development, then I’ll do another edit where I trim everything down and make it the best that I can. But for now, I’m fixing things.

Luckily, having a novel in edit makes these next set of questions rather easy to answer, rather than having to imagineer something that I will edit in the future.

  • How soon in the story does the death occur? Can I make it any sooner? Would that be a good idea?

The death occurs roughly two-thirds of the way into the story, and I shouldn’t really make it any sooner. It’s the classic death of the mentor, so it needs to be when the Main Character has grown up and learnt loads and become very emotionally attached to the mentor, and the death paves the way for the next stages of their development.

  • How many red herrings or false dawns occur? Do I need more red herrings or false dawns? Or fewer? Are mine credible?

ClassicStorytelling-updated2I think I have a couple of false dawns in there, where stuff looks like it might be going in the right direction and then doesn’t for one reason or another. I also have a couple of red herrings, not so much as red herrings precisely, but there are some slow burning questions that get established early on, to which the answers are very slowly revealed throughout the book with careful research and uncovering.

<I have a suspicion that this list was written for mystery/crime/thriller novels, since the next three questions are about suspects, threats and clues.>

  • How many suspects are there? Do they all have a strong enough motive, and some opportunity?

Well, I have a villain, and I’ve certainly given them lots of motive and a decent whack of opportunity, but they don’t commit a crime, they’re after other things. But it’s mainly in the latter part of the book which I haven’t edited yet, so there’s definite room for improvement, and I need to seed it in earlier scenes.

  • How pressing is the threat? Is there a sufficient sense of urgency and have I built the tension by showing the inevitable progress towards some dire event?

Well I’m not writing a thriller, so my answer to this questions is limited. There is going to be a threat, and I am going to work to work on the sense of urgency and threat. The bare bones of it are there, but it does need work.

  • Where in the text have I concealed my clues? Do those paragraph’s read like normal prose, or is it evident that they are pivotal?

DramaticArcThis bit is more relevant, because the clues related to why the Main Character is what she is. In this re-write I am going through and seeding more clues, and adjusting the pacing of finding out, because in my first edit I didn’t actually think of the reason until near the end of the novel, so everything got rushed out at the end. Now, in the edit, I get to go back and put in clues, hints and discoveries towards the beginning and middle, and culminate in the conclusion, rather than rushing it out all at the end.

  • Is the middle sagging? What can I do to give it impetus?

Well it was, but I’ve already edited the middle, and I added a big accident where the main character causes the deaths of some people through her actions. It’s great for character and social development, and will continue to cause a lot of drama throughout the rest of the novel as well.

  • How close to the end does the denouement occur?

I’ve got what would be termed a ‘cool-down’ chapter at the end of the book, and I’m going to work on spreading out some of the denouement, but mainly it occurs in the penultimate chapter where the MC’s friends have to work stuff out to put everything right again whilst the MC is in a magically induced coma (it less cliché in the book, I promise.). And there is more than enough action in the final part, there’s the thing that puts the MC into the coma, the reaction of friends afterwards, and the fixing part. I mean, I haven’t yet edited it, but it’s a good start.

And there we go! Seven days of writing, over and done with. The booklet ends with a little page saying ‘Good Luck!’, which I think is a lovely thing to end on. I mean, I’m going to have to find something else to write about now, since I am far too used to daily posts, but tomorrow is Thursday, which means dragon day, so come back for that.

C'est La Vee

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