When Your Novel Is A Mess…

Yesterday, I was feeling pretty good about my editing. I’ve been editing this novel for a while and while it’s been slow going, it is coming along. And that’s a good thing!

Then, tonight I looked at the first part as a whole and I think it’s just to dang long. I need to have the first plot point come sooner—a lot sooner. Conventionally, it should be at around the twenty-five percent mark and mine comes a lot later.

I don’t know if this means moving scenes from the first act into the second act, or cutting them altogether. I’ll probably need a combination of both.

Why does editing have to be so incredibly hard?! Also, why couldn’t I have learned anything useful about editing in school? Seriously, despite all the writing I learned over the years, I don’t think I learned a single useful thing about editing my own writing. But that’s a story for another time.

Advertisements

Round One Edits COMPLETE.

Yesterday, I finished the first round of edits for one of my manuscripts. I want to take it through another round on my own before letting anyone read it. I also want to forget about it for a bit so I can look at it with fresh eyes (again) prior to the next round, so I’m setting it aside for a bit. In the meantime, I’m editing the novel that I finished back in February that I referenced in that link above. It’s been almost two months since I last looked at it, so I decided now is as a good time as any to dive into it.

I’m still at the beginning, but one thing I’ve noticed is how much outlining and structuring up front has helped my writing. Yes, it’s a ton of work up front, but this book already reads so much smoother than some of my earlier work. I thought I was going to hate it when I went back to it… but I actually kind of like it.

February and March Writing Reports

Editing is weird.

When I’m working on a rough draft, it’s easy to count how many words I’ve written. The convenient little word count feature in Scrivener shows me how much I’ve written that day. It’s relatively simple to write 500-1,000 words. They may not be the most beautiful words and they may need to be edited later, but still, the actual tracking of words written is easy. Therefore, progress is easier to see, too.

Editing is different. It’s more mentally draining, so I can’t do it as long as I can write. It’s also harder to estimate word count. Parts get deleted and rewritten. I’ll read over a couple thousand words and rewrite some of those, rearrange others, and leave the remainder alone.

That being said, I spent most of February and all of March editing. So while I do have writing reports for both months, they’re a bit different than usual.

In February, I wrote 8,824 words. That’s an average of 315 words per day. Most of those were written on or before February 10, which is when I finished the draft I was working on (yay!) and started editing a different manuscript. I missed 14 days that month.

In March, I wrote 8,396 words. That’s an average of 270 words per day. That was all during my editing process and I missed 16 days.

The good news? I’m approaching the end of my first round of edits on this manuscript. I’ll probably let it sit for a little bit while working on something else. Then it’ll be time for another reread and probably some more edits of what I missed the first time around. I have a feeling I will be very tired of this book by the time I’m finished editing.

Diving Right In

Ten days ago, I finished the third draft of a novel. I’d been working on it for… far too long, considering the end product. Including my time outlining, I was occupied with the thing for over a year. (I started outlining in December 2016.) And I’m not even close to being done with it. I know it needs a lot of editing, starting with some cuts in the beginning. The first act of the story, which should be approximately the first quarter of the book, is a tad on the long side. Plus I’m considering redoing the entire book in third person rather than first. First person is really, really, really hard to write well, in my opinion. (I will point you to the many mediocre first-person novels out there. There are a ton of them.) I’m not sure if this book really requires first person, the more I think about it, so a rewrite may be in store.

I don’t like to edit immediately after finishing something, though, so I put that manuscript aside. The day after I finished it, I started editing something else. It’s another manuscript I finished back in 2015, meant to edit, but then never got around to it. A writer’s work is never done, you guys. Anthony Trollope the prolific (and financially successful!) Victorian novelist wrote every day—even if he finished something. As in, if he still had time left to write after finishing, he started on his next project that very same day. Brandon Sanderson, a modern novelist who is very, very successful (he writes fantasy and supports his family with his writing, which is basically my dream), wrote thirteen or so novels before he got published. And it wasn’t the thirteenth one that was published first. It was the sixth or seventh that managed to spark an editor’s interest and launch his writing career.

Now, I don’t want to jinx anything or get ahead of myself… but that manuscript I mentioned above, the one I finished in 2015 that I’m editing now? I actually sort of like it. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot in it I have to fix. I’m reading through it now and have almost five pages of notes already. But I feel like it has actual potential. I’d love to get it into a state where I actually feel comfortable pitching it. Because I’ve never pitched a novel before and that’s something I want to do this year.