So I’m about 6 months into novel-editing hell.
Accordingly, I’m slowly honing an Extremely Useful Editing Method for People who Hate Editing, which I present herewith for any like-minded parties.
- Yes. I can do this. Or rather, I MUST do this.
- Preferably with minimum tears.
- But first, tea. Everything starts with tea. I am in England, after all.
- Maybe I should, yanno, open the manuscript?
- Ditto actually open my eyes when I look at it?
- Ditto take my hands away from my eyes?
- Note I didn’t say “no tears” earlier.
- Lets really open up this file this time and—
- A spelling mistake. First line.
- Spelling mistake fixed.
- Hey, look at me, I’m editing!
- YES I CAN DO THIS.
- So give up. Because it’s piss-or-get-off-the-pot time.
- Think of all those books on Amazon, in bookstores. All those people could do it. Do you really want to admit they can do something you can’t? You’ve already written the blasted thing. This is the home stretch.
- The dream of the perfect first draft will never die.
- Maybe I just have to dive in there and—
- Wait, I wrote this?
- Why do I not remember any of this?
- Okay, this bit I remember. It sucks.
- You know what else sucks? Romance subplots. I’m simply not a romantic at heart.
- On to the next scene and see what I have to work with.
- The Cut File is my new best friend.
- Maybe this would be better set at the beach.
- I want to marry my cut file.
- Make that a threesome with my ergonomic mouse.
- If I move this scene to later and add in a new one here, then that means—
- OMG OMG EPIPHANY: Your job as a writer is not to solve your characters’ problems for them. That’s their job over the course of the book. Your job as a writer is to give your characters the right problems to solve. What are the right problems? The ones that move them along their arc or force them to deal with the situation that, deep down, they are avoiding.
- It seems so clear. Wow.
- Stare out the window and marvel at this clarity. Wonderous.
- Except—how does that work in practice?
- Maybe if I merge these two characters…
- The dream of the perfect first draft is dead, and my cut file is its elegy.
- New mantra: Is it Scene? Is it Arc?
- Yes, no, yes, yes, no.
- I still think my cut file is a better book than what I have left.
- BUT IS IT ARC?
- Time for more tea.
- Not green tea either. High-octane tea.
- Halfway? When did that happen?
I’m now at the point where I have to read it all straight through. I know that Holly Lisle and Chuck Wendig both recommend reading it through as a first stage, but c’mon, I didn’t get in this mess in the first place by listening to wisdom from the trenches, did I? Besides, everyone needs a hobby. Mine is reinventing the wheel.
But here it is. Yes, humungous but I do the “comment” thing in Word, which means the actual page gets shrunk when you print it. To compensate, I upped the font to 14 pt. So between that and the ridiculously large margins due to comments, it was 435 pages printed out. I think it could kill a cat if dropped from waist height.
I shall keep you updated as and when…