And I want to share the grief…
Well, no, not really. I’m one of those strange creatures that actually enjoys edits. And I am enjoying these ones. It’s just that we’re going on holidays on Saturday morning. HOLIDAYS! And so I want the edits done.
As I am not editing right now I thought I’d write about edits – because my mind is slightly twisted by all the variety of spellings my writing brain came up with in the course of writing the first draft of this book, and my editor brain can’t really take it anymore.
Yes – two brains. Writer brain and editor brain. They share the same head.
It’s noisy in there.
Edits are an exciting phase of any book. They’re the point where the story has to take form. As I don’t tend to plot (really) I’m always in a sense surprised not by where the book ended up but by the winding path it took to get there. It’s where I get to go back and actuall make the ending work. It’s where I get to filter through the events of the book and plant those breadcrumbs.
So in the interests of disclosure this is what I do. This may work for you, or it may not. Parts of it might. You never know.
I print off my first draft. I get a red pen. It should have a lid to go on the end. The lid will be very chewed by the time I finish, so its there to protect the pen.
So I have a print out and a red pen, a note book for jotting down anything I need to note and I basically start reading.
I try and read it as quickly (and closely) as possible and I write all over the page. I mean ALL OVER the page. Seriously, it looks like a demented spider dipped in red ink has done a foxtrot on the pages. I draw maps too. In the notebook I try to keep a note of things like timelines so we don’t jump from afternoon to dawn or something like that. I also jot down overview things like – the Stone needs to be mentioned earlier on, or Lose the sword. It’s very enlightening.
When I’m finished, I sit back and read through it again then start making the changes on a new copy of the file. I always try to keep the original .1 in case a disaster of some kind (over zelous editing perhaps) happens. So I create .2 and start going through the paper version page by page and adjusting the text. Sometimes I come across things I wanted to change but give other changes don’t seem to fit anymore. Sometimes I had decided to take a plot point one way but then changed my mind. Everything continues to be fluid.
It’s important to remember that its only the final final edit when you’ve sold the book and are turning it in to your editor with their changes. Until then its perfectly valid to make changes, alter changes, go back on changed and generally mess around with it until you have it the way you want it. And keep copies. that way you can go back MUCH more easily.
This is the time when themes become much more apparent, when you can work in those layers that make a story resonate with the reader. And when the final shape begins to come out of the roughly carved source.
And once I’ve finished making my changes the book will go off to beta readers. I will chew my fingernails to the quick and, as I’ll be in France, drink some red wine. When they come back with their opinions I’ll polish again, incorporating ideas, clearing up points that don’t make sense or don’t read well, and then…
it will go to my agent…