In an effort to motivate myself and avoid the self-imposed humiliation of failing publicly, I have decided to update every two weeks on my editing. My first time editing a finished novel. I’ve edited short stories aplenty, but I don’t feel prepared in the slightest.
For those wondering, I wrote a horror fiction piece during 2012’s National Novel Writing Month and am finally, seriously, editing it. The story itself is loosely based on my first three years of primary school, which would be horror in itself without the supernatural elements I’ve added to the story.
It’s safe to say my first two weeks, ok three weeks, of editing has not gone well. I began by going through the document and cutting filler words. Shitty words you don’t need like just, because, perhaps, slightly, suddenly, as, yet… I hate yet and suddenly! If it’s all of a sudden, why do you need to reiterate it with the word suddenly? Piss off filler words!
Ahem… One day I will vent my rage towards filler words, but not now.
The word-cutting went well. Some chapters were rife with as and though, sometimes together, but mostly I don’t write like I speak. How fortunate! I blog how I speak. Imagine reading a book like my blog posts? Oh jeez, I’m getting a headache just thinking about it.
Cutting all those words to start gave me some much-needed confidence and told me I could do this. I kept telling myself I could do this. I can’t print the document out to scribble madly all over it so word-cutting was my happy alternative.
The First Week
After some stopping and starting, I finally finished the prologue in seven hours. I don’t know if I’m impressed or shocked by that. I don’t know which one to choose from and I don’t know if I’m being overly meticulous or I’m just slow. I have learnt I will spend an hour on one paragraph. Is this ridiculous? Hmm…
The reason I spend so much time on one paragraph is because I want each and every word to really work. I want character detail or development, setting, plot development, and feeling to show in every paragraph and if the words I use don’t help me do such a thing then they’re just as bad as filler words. They’re useless to me!
I know there’s a balance between information overload and lack of information and I’m trying to make sure each page, scene, each paragraph, each sentence, and each word, shows everything it needs to and no more or less. I want to avoid telling as much as possible. Telling pisses me off almost as much as filler words.
I’m starting to think editing makes me mad. Sounds like it doesn’t it?
The Second Week
I don’t really remember the second week all too well. I think I have blocked it out. Sounds promising, yes indeed.
I did make the effort time and time again to no avail. I am still, now, working on the first paragraph. This is what I think is going on. Editing itself is a daunting prospect, but I didn’t edit as I wrote the story out, nor did I take my time with it. I wrote this baby in three weeks during NaNo and, excuse my language, but holy fuck balls is the only way I can describe it. WHAT A MESS!
I blame NaNo. I also love NaNo for helping me get the story out, but I blame it as well. If it wasn’t for NaNo I would probably still be trying to write it so there’s that. I also wouldn’t have been able to share in the collective insanity that is the NaNo community and be made to feel at least partly normal. I have nothing against NaNo, I think it’s more how I write with NaNo.
I got the story out, but my novel is a veritable outline and I basically have to rewrite the whole bloody thing! There were some scenes that were extremely difficult to write to begin with, they made me want to vomit, and I’m not looking forward to revisiting them.
The Third Week
I’ve gotten heaps done this past week. I cleaned out the kitchen cupboards, cut down a tree (it was poisonous), the house is spotless, I joined the gym, took part in a fun run… Oh, the novel?
I changed the surname of one of the teachers from Schöffer to Walsh and that’s about it. Now I’m an anaemic woman at that time of the month so I’m really focusing on trying not to fall flat on my face. My story keeps going around in circles in my head, but all I want to do is nap and stare at the bunny.
I should suck it up and get on with it. Especially if I want to finish editing before the next NaNo! How could I not take part in NaNo and write another mess?
I’m aware this is my first time editing more than what I’m used to and I have very little idea of what I’m doing, or what to expect. Sure I read and research it all, find other writer’s accounts, listen to podcasts and whatnot, but I’m a newbie at all of this. The main things I know is editing isn’t an easy road (otherwise we’d all love it), to not give up, and this baby will not be readable, at least by beta readers, until I’ve done at least three full edits.
I am happy with my prologue, even though I know it’s a first edit and I’m not sure if I’m going to extend parts of it. I had some of my family members read it and they couldn’t get over how descriptive it is. Turns out that’s their favourite word. I actually had very positive reactions from them. I know they’re my family so it’s probably always going to be a positive reaction, but I’ll take anything to help me with my confidence in editing right now.
My first paragraph – The familiar morning smells of Thomson Street; dew-dampened grass from the park across the way, the pungent aroma of oil and fumes from the boisterous traffic of the main road adjacent to the cul-de-sac, wafted over on the faint breeze and tickled Lulu’s nostrils. She pressed her nose to the screen door while she waited for her mother and breathed in trying to calm the tremor of trepidation coursing through her petite form.