The results are in!

On this fantastic December first, I will take the time to reflect back on the month of editing I (sort of) accomplished! I have technically been editing for five weeks, but during that period, I missed enough days to constitute an entire week. November has never been the best month for me to work…

I haven’t made it all the way through the story. Indeed, these past ten days have been editing the same chapter, over and over. It’s kind of an important part of the story, you know? I think I found my rhythm, hit my stride, and whatever other clichéd expressions you’d like. The only problem there, is, my style is repetitive and mildly obsessive. Read, edit, pick at each word, add detail, cut everything remotely superfluous, keep only the sharp and essential and the very carefully written. Do it all again tomorrow. Stories, I’m finding, are a very special kind of compulsion.

Every pass I take, it gets better. I can assure you of that much. But I’ve also discovered editing this closely means I often need to go further back, re-read, make sure the connections are all there, the references all make sense. So it takes a very, very long time to make even minor progress. Naturally, every time I do go back, I find something small to change. A little edit to make. Something which might not make quite enough impact gets altered.

Right now, I am still three chapters from the end of the book. My word count total has gone up by almost five thousand words, on top of everything I’ve cut and re-written into concise, clear sentences. I suspect, with the amount of changes I’ve made, the full amount of words I’ve actually written is well over double that number.

I can’t tell how much longer this will take to finish. I like to imagine the last three chapters will zoom by, but instinct tells me they are the ones I will be prying at the most. I can get a lot done with a good chunk of free time at my hands. I will be setting aside some extra writing time, specifically so I can guarantee this edit is finished before Christmas. Things get way too crazy in this household for the holidays, and I’ve honestly started to feel really inspired about working on book two of the series.

And that means, in a few months, I’ll be doing this all over again. Oh lord. Writing really is glorious, delirious madness.

~A

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How do you edit?

With only three chapters remaining until I’ve completed my second draft of TDM, I’m getting that niggling feeling I might be missing something, or going about this all wrong. I don’t know where these thoughts come from! I can’t explain the irrational doubts which enter my mind. I’ll be working away merrily, then BAM. “Do you even know what you’re doing?”. The answer to that is a resounding no, but we can all agree that none of anyone knows what they’re doing, so it’s all okay.

But to sate my curiosity, and my innate need to compare, I thought I’d just put it out there: how do you go about editing a manuscript?

I started out by reading the whole story. At least, I think I did. There’s a very good chance I got half way (or less) through it before I started making changes. I’ve been trying to work methodically, start to finish. At the beginning of a session, I will go back a scene or two and refresh my memory and get into the groove of the story before I edit further.

There have been many instances where I’ve changed something, and had to go back to much earlier in the story to modify something small for accuracy. Or worse, browse through the previous chapters to figure out what I already wrote, sometimes because I just need to verify my own memory, and sometimes because I can’t recall exactly what I changed.

It feels like a whole lot of back-and-forth. Am I doing something wrong? Is this the normal way to edit? Am I just terribly neurotic? (Yes.) Will this all get easier with practice, or am I going to be stuck with this method forever?

I’ve mentioned in another post how I love to collect and save words of wisdom and inspiration (Just half of a fully forgotten memory). One of the gems in my collection comes from INTERN’s NaNoReVisMo (another alternate to InSecDraMo). I can take a lot of comfort in seeing what INTERN deems vital during editing, because I can compare notes and see that I’m doing a whole lot of what she’s mentioned. That’s important! My feelings are being validated! I might almost be on the right track!

But let me know what you get up to when it’s time to polish your story.

~A

Half way points

In the spirit of InSecDraMo, I thought I’d stop in today and give you all a mid-November update!

Okay, to be fair, I (re)started editing TDM on October 27th, so I got five days headstart on the ol’ month of writerly work, but that goes a little way toward off-setting the problem of Halloween a couple of days later, then my wedding anniversary and birthday falling in this month and taking me away from work (rightfully so, I suppose). For November itself, I’ve missed four days. I’ve added over 3,500 words to my manuscript, and cut or changed innumerable more (meaning I have no way of keeping track of exactly what I’ve cut, re-written, or replaced).

In terms of actual editing, I am more than half way through the book. There’s no accurate measurement for editing-to-word ratio, since I know for a fact that I will be adding in certain scenes further in the story, thus upping the final count. As far as current word count goes, I’ve edited up to the 57% point. That is a VERY good feeling.

For InSecDraMo, that would mean I’m ahead of schedule, and doing a mighty fine job of it! I admit, I’m struggling a little at the moment, and that’s a big part of why I’ve missed days. This chapter is amazing and totally awesome, but still desperately needed a hard edit. There were things I’d decided I needed to change, no question about it, and it’s just hard to add those elements in when it temporarily mangles an otherwise epic scene.

The story will still need work later on, but it’s definitely getting somewhere. I am still so in love with these characters, and the situations they are getting into make me some kind of gleeful maniac. It’s all a little mean, but an author has to do these things to the ones we love best! Right now, I think I have an excellent chance at reaching my editing goal and have it ready for my betas to read at the end of the month. Exciting! I know at least one of them is eagerly awaiting this story.

~A

While everyone else is busy writing

It’s NaNoWriMo time, after all, and most of my writerly friends are charging ahead with their writing abandon. You’re all doing so great, too! I can’t wait to hear about your progress throughout the month.

I piked on NaNo this year; I’ve been way too caught up editing TDM, and since the original deadline I set myself was to have a solid second edit finished by late November, I decided it was time to get down to business.

Cue InSecDraMo! Barb Riley of Written Not With Ink blogged about her November plans, coining InSecDraMo, or Individual Second Draft Month.

I already had my blog post all written out for today, too, but Barb inspired me. It’s pretty exciting to see others hitting the second draft with me this month, so I figured I should spread the word. As I commented on her blog, I have been trying very hard to edit in proper order, start to finish, but it’s just not happening. Every day, I start reading from a chapter earlier, to make sure the edits flow on correctly. Every few scenes, I cross-reference something earlier in the story. This is a really intensive edit, but I am loving it.

Something interesting I noted: I’m also adding a huge amount of words. Normally, my edits cut, cut, cut. Sure, I’m doing plenty of that still, but I am writing a phenomenal amount on top of those cuts. I think it has a lot to do with how ridiculously fast I churned out the first draft of TDM. It just flew out of me in five short weeks, and now that I’m into a complicated edit, I’m adding in all the delicious, necessary details that fill in for the reader what my brain already knew during drafting. So far, I’ve bumped the word count by 1,000 words per chapter. Wow.

All this talk of editing is getting me super excited to get back into it! That has to be a good sign. Honestly, I love this story so much, I can’t even tell you.

Good luck to all NaNo-ers, and especially to my fellow InSecDraMo-ers, too!

~A