Edit, edit, edit!
I started re-writing my first novel last week. Finally. I had postponed it way too long, but now I have the Winterland book fair as a stick behind the door I had to do it. And boy, did I need to…
Time between edits
They always say to take some time between edits. They never say for how long though. Well, that’s not entirely true, they do suggest lengths of time, but they all vary. So that’s no help at all. I wrote my first novel in August 2015, as good as a year ago. For me, at this moment in time, that is a good time between edits. Only because of the fact that during this year I have learned an enormous amount of English! I had a steep learning curve in grammar, in particular the (past) tenses. I learned about rhetoric. I learned about punctuation and formatting. I learned about the three-act structure and character building. I learned about sub-plots and suspense building. I learned so much. I suppose that the length between edits will become less in time, as I (hopefully) will learn to write better from the start.
Kill your darlings
So what have I been editing so far? As I may have mentioned before, I have let go of the chronological timeline. The first seventy pages of my book were information dumping and setting the scene. I learned that readers don’t like this. They want action, murder on the first page so to speak. So in the new version I started the story from where things start to happen. Now I had seventy pages of information that I needed to weave into the new structure. Seventy pages of ‘darlings.’ I managed to incorporate some flashbacks as whole chapters. That was the easy way. Half of what was left I managed to put in here and there, also as flashbacks or thoughts, memories, but shorter ones. I still have 2.5K words left over, so still some work to be done as some of those are important information for the story. I can’t ‘kill’ them.
Talk to yourself
Other edits were re-writes of sentences. I haven’t been re-writing scenes as a whole, as I was quite happy with them. Quite a few sentences needed revising though. They didn’t flow well or they didn’t convey the feeling that I wanted them too. Over the past year my vocabulary has grown and I feel that I can express myself now better than before. It’s still no literature, but a shuffle in that direction I suppose. How do I know a sentence doesn’t flow? Because I notice it when I say them out loud, in my head. Gotcha! No, I can’t make myself talk to myself out loud. So I pretend I’m doing it in my head. Works for me. I pretend to have another person’s voice, like that of David Attenborough, and read as if I was reading for an audio book, full of emotion and ups and downs of my voice. You should try it, its fun 🙂 !
Grammar, Punctuation and Formatting
I’ve got ProWritingAid to help me with the grammar, which will help me pick out those odd sentences, re-usage of words in a paragraph and the true grammatical mistakes. I haven’t used it yet, as I still have one last chapter to get through, but this is next on the ‘to do’ list. I will keep you updated on this one.
And there are the punctuation mistakes. Even though I had my work read by a proof reader, I still picked up the odd mistake here and there. We’re only human, so I will throw my work through Grammarly for that. It should be better than any human eye. This will be done after using ProWritingAid. Maybe it’s not necessary after this, but just to make sure (it’s free anyway).
Then I will have to put my text into Word to re-format. I don’t mind doing this. As I suspect I have an OCD streak in me, I like making things ‘smooth.’ I don’t like it when things ‘stick out’ and spoil the overall look. I’m actually looking forward to this part!
Print and Read
After the formatting is done I will print out my work; two pages on one A4 sheet, 1.5 space in between and narrow margins (to save paper). This will show me any formatting errors. I will read my work from front to back, with a red pen in hand to make notes and corrections.
And after I have finished this… I will start all over again!
Have a Happy Writing Weekend!