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Posts tagged ‘editing’

T is for… The Rewrite!

Okay, so using ‘the’ to claim a T is a bit of a cheat but I’m so stoked that I need to share my triumph. *Drumroll*

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I finished my rewrite of The Lost Weaver this week.

Well, when I say ‘finished’, I mean I finished the writing part. I still need to edit it, after I’ve let it rest a little while.

I began the rewrite after receiving some great feedback from publisher, Gollancz, following their open submissions period. They had it for a year, and I got through to the 3rd and final round of reading but the novel just wasn’t quite ready for publication.

Gollancz feedback

This was the postcard they sent me

I was gutted, of course, but also grateful and encouraged by the feedback. I let it stew a while and eventually it nagged at me enough to make me open up the Scrivener file and have another look. They were right, of course. I needed to revisit and fix the pacing at the beginning. I was trying put too much into the opening chapters of the novel.

Once I got started, I couldn’t stop. After fixing the pacing, I continued and fixed all the other little (and big) things that didn’t quite work if I was truly honest with myself. The main complaint from my writing group was that there were too many names in the opening chapters: place names, people names, race names. So, I fixed that by introducing secondary names more slowly.

I didn’t like the origin story of my magic using character, so I rewrote that. I rewrote whole chapters, completely, and fixed the continuity in others. I deleted chapters, and characters (minor ones) and I wrote thousands of new words (and a couple of new characters). Of course, that leaves me with another problem because even though I’ve deleted so much, I’ve still managed to add another 25,000 words, bringing the total to 143,000.  Even for an epic fantasy, that’s a bit long (especially for a first novel!). When I do pick it back up to edit, I’m going to have to be ruthless.

So, what did I do after the euphoria wore off? I got out my trusty pen and notebook and I brainstormed a new novel idea. I was going to work on the sequel to the Lost Weaver, which I abandoned at 80,000 words to go back and fix the first book, but I want to wait until after I’ve edited the first book so I can keep the continuity.

Plus, I need something non-epic to work on for my MFA, as the word count limit on that project is 70,000.

The new story involves an older main character: a witch approaching her sixtieth birthday, with a talking raven for a familiar. I’m not going to say any more as I don’t want to take away any momentum from writing it, but you can bet she’s going to be a lively character.

I’m also working on another story involving the sisters Edie and Mabel, from my short story, ‘They Never Remember.’  Since Plasma Frequency, who originally published it, are no longer around, (and the rights have reverted back to me), I’ve published it here. The new story involves a bird house that has an unusual resident.

So what have you been up to this week?

 

E is for … Editing

online-editing-proofreading-300x124Editing is my favourite part of the writing process, because it means I’ve written something and now I can work on shaping it into something better.

I’ve learned not to edit as I write, whether it’s a short story or a novel length piece of work. Instead, I try to get the first draft down without looking back. I may re-read the last few paragraphs from a previous session, to get me back into the story, but I try hard not to mess with them.

Why? There are several reasons but the first and foremost is that there is nothing sacred in a first draft. I may change or rewrite huge pieces of the story and those words I spent so much time getting ‘just right’ may be deleted altogether. So why waste my precious writing time trying to perfect something I may not even keep?

Secondly, it stops the flow. I go from writing mode into editing mode and lose my writing momentum. It’s better that I continue to write and then go back and fix things than to keep rewriting the first few chapters. That was something I did a great deal when I first started writing and it wasn’t until I stopped that I managed to finish a first draft of a novel.

Stage 1 – revision – making sure it all fits together

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I tend to write scenes and build from there. Once I have a completed piece of work, I read it through from end to end and make notes of anything that needs to be changed. I’m still not trying to perfect the wording at this stage. That comes later. This first pass is looking at ‘big picture’ problems; I’m looking for dead ends, missing information, continuity issues, contradictions and other glitches that affect the novel as a whole.

For example, I may have a character in chapter one who has something important to say to my main character and then they never appear again. I’ll look at that character and decide whether they need to be there, or whether that important piece of information can come from one of the other characters.

Or perhaps there’s an event that happens mid-way through the novel, but I don’t follow up on it because my story went in another direction. I have to make a decision on whether that scene is necessary and – if it is – I need to follow it up and link it to the rest of the story rather than leave it as a loose end.

Stage 2 – editing – making the words work

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After I’ve done the first editing pass and I’m happy with the changes, I’ll start to work on the words themselves. My early drafts are quite bare and mostly consist of action and dialogue, with just enough description to give me a sense of where we are and who’s who.

So, in this next pass, I’ll add in the detail that brings the world and the characters to life. I’ll also work on sentence and paragraph structure. In this editing pass, this:

Her thoughts drifted back to earlier, and her conversation with the doctor. When she had tried to concentrate on his words, her gaze had wandered to search the face of the nurse who sat beside her. The nurse had been as kind as anyone could but been unable to offer anything more than empathy.

Brain stem glioma, they called it. The doctor had said surgery was too risky. They might be able to give her a couple more years, with radiotherapy or chemotherapy, but death was her ultimate prognosis.

Becomes this:

Her thoughts drifted back to earlier, and her conversation with Doctor Reece. When she had tried to concentrate on his words, delivered in kindly, muted tones, her gaze had wandered to search the face of the young nurse who sat beside her, holding her hand.

Megan. That was her name. Megan had been as supportive and kind as anyone could but ultimately, like the doctor, had been unable to offer anything more than empathy.

Brain stem glioma. That’s what they’d called the monster that was going to kill her.

Inoperable.

The doctor had said surgery was too risky, the brain stem too delicate to withstand damage from even the most delicate of surgical tools.

Inevitable.

They might be able to give her a couple more years, with radiotherapy or chemotherapy, but death was her only prognosis.

Intolerable.

Stage 3 – Proofreading

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Once I’m happy with the words and the sentence structure, the final stage is a line edit or proofread. Whatever your writing and editing process, this stage is essential. This is where I look for typos, spelling mistakes, punctuation issues and other errors. I also look for repeated words. Finally, I run a search and replace to change all the double spaces to single spaces, because I learned to type when two spaces were the norm and muscle memory is hard to shake off.

To help with the line edit, I convert the document to a different font. It makes the writing less familiar and I’m likely to pick up any anomalies more easily.

And that’s it. Or at least until something makes me go back and look at it again.

I’m currently doing a complete rework of The Lost Weaver, after some useful feedback from a publishing house. The process is somewhere between a first draft and a first edit. I’m completely rewriting some scenes, and reworking others to fit with the new ones. Once that’s done I will do a complete re-read and start the editing process on stage 2, unless I pick up continuity errors on the re-read.