I’m currently in the editing stage of my novel (“WIP” means work in progress). Here is the post giving an overview of my novel and I finished writing the first draft in December of last year.
Over the past few months, I haven’t done any active editing. I like a lot of aspects of it, but I think it needs a considerable amount of editing to make it better. With work being busy and needing some time away from my story anyway, I am now starting to feel ready to dive into edits.
I’ve been doing a few things, and I have a vague plan going forwards.
I’ve been thinking about my story and what I can do to improve it. Having some distance has allowed me to think about it while also relaxing and not putting a lot of pressure on myself to be actively editing. This is going to be a recurring step throughout the process.
Reading Books on Writing
I have been casually working my way through some books on writing. I do want to read more before I properly take everything apart, but I want to get a decent idea of how to do that. Or at least a refresher.
One thing that I know I need to be careful about is spending too much time reading about writing/editing and not actually editing. That has slowed me down before. I spent a good chunk of my twenties wanting to write a book but not writing one because I didn’t know how. I’m still learning, but I have gained invaluable information by just writing a draft. I would still have a lot of the same questions I do now, but I wouldn’t have anything to edit. And having something to edit is a great feeling.
I have set myself a set list of books to read and then, once I have finished reading them, I’m going to edit – regardless of whether I feel quite ready or not.
I am going to be doing a post on books on writing in the near future, so will be going into more depth on them, but these are the ones that I’m reading in preparation for my edits:
- The Writer’s Little Helper by James V. Smith Jr
- A Passion for Narrative by Jack Hodgins
- Into the Woods by John Yorke
- The Fantasy Fiction Formula by Deborah Chester
- Save the Cat Writes a Novel by Jessica Brady
- The Complete Guide to Writing Fantasy: Volume One edited by Darin Park and Tom Dullemond
- Foreshadow: Stories to Celebrate the Magic of Reading and Writing YA edited by Emily E.R. Pan and Nova Ren Suma
- The Emotional Wound Thesaurus, The Positive Trait Thesaurus, and The Negative Trait Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi
I’m hoping that this list will have enough of a good mix of “how-to” information and also enough explanation as to why those aspects are there. I don’t want my story to feel formulaic, but I do want it to be engaging and for the characters to be interesting. I’m hoping that this mix of books will give me the tools to do that.
Looking at this list, I’m very quickly realizing that I’ve got a lot more to read! Thankfully, I have read some already. I tend to read multiple books at once as long as they’re not too similar, so I’ll be able to keep up with my fiction reviews. I have already started on this list, but it will take a bit more time to get through it.
My thoughts on the editing (or pre-editing, in this case) process
I think I mostly need to decide what exactly I want the story to be in terms of shape/structure, tone, and themes (so, basically everything!). This should help the story become stronger. I’m hoping that by going through the books this will help. I’m a bit worried that they might make me more indecisive with an overload of too much information, but I’m hoping that it will help me understand story structure better, as well as particular narrative elements.
Should drafting an entire book have prepared me to edit that said book? Maybe, but I don’t think it’s worked. I thought I would know more of what I was doing after I had finished writing it, and I kind of do, but now it’s a different skill set which I am working on. I am quite happy line editing other work, but focusing on structural narrative rehauls is new to me. I’ve got a lot of information and I have previously cut out a lot of words, so this will be a bit of a rewrite. I’m simultaneously excited and apprehensive. I really like my characters and I want to do right by them.
I have a lot of notes and I’m going to be going through them over the next couple of months. These are ideas of edits and things that I want to expand upon and I tend to make these in multiple formats (phone notes, post-it-notes, scrivener notes, notes in a couple of notebooks)… I’m a mess when it comes to organizing my ideas all in one place. I haven’t quite figured out my systems yet, but I’m hoping that going through this process will help. I think this will be the easiest of all of the things that I am going to be doing.
Within the next few months, I’m hoping to have a more targeted plan of action and to have started revising properly.
For now, I guess I’ll get back to reading those writing books!
If anyone has any tips, resources, or encouragement I’d be very grateful to hear from you!