When it came time to edit, I was genuinely looking forward to the process. I know most writers tend to dread and loathe this phase, but for me it’s taking the story I already love and reshaping it into a better version of itself.
Yay, fun times!
Because I edit as I go when writing my first draft, I made the assumption that once I sat down to do the full-draft edits, I’d have it easy. Somehow I had convinced myself that I’d be done in two weeks.
Oh how wrong I was.
It took me six fucking weeks.
I completely threw myself into the process. Cut back on socializing with friends, reduced the amount of books I read, didn’t watch as much TV, and spent less time on my social media sites. Everything in my life took a backseat to editing.
And it still took me six fucking weeks.
My editing was broken down into four stages: checking for mistakes, cutting scenes, adding scenes, and refining. Since my book is forty chapters long, doing this all at once would’ve overwhelmed me. So I worked on the stages five chapters at a time, making slow but steady progress.
For the six weeks I kept my nails purple, matching the hair colour of my protagonist. It was my own little quirk to continuously motivate myself to get move on and make it through those stages so I could continue on my manuscript to do list.
Step one – checking for mistakes.
This meant reading the book out loud to myself. There is something about actually hearing the words, instead of just thinking them. Reading out loud helped me catch typos/unnecessary words my brain had somehow missed, gave me a proper feel of the pacing of my scenes aka what they lacked or required, and helped me with the character dialogue. Once I had marked up my manuscript according to what needed to be done, it was time to move to the next step.
Step two – cutting scenes.
I’m an over-writer which means I tend to give everything from descriptions to dialogue more attention than required. So in order to trim and tighten the story, I got the hatchet out, and hacked away at the excess. It wasn’t easy, I had to keep reminding myself to trust the reader and believe they’d be able to follow a conversation/be immersed in my world, without all the extra words. The chopping block became less painful the further along I got in my editing, leaving me pleased with the end results.
Step three – adding scenes.
This is my absolute favorite part of the editing process! Once I’d finished writing the first draft, I noticed there was a little something missing. Through the addition of four scenes I was able to expand essential character development, put in some foreshadowing, and add moments that helped push the plot forward while increasing the momentum of my book. I was actually disappointed there were only four scenes to add, I wish there’d been more!
Step four – refining.
My second favorite part of this process. Once I’d finished working all of the above into the section I was editing, it was time to read it back while focusing on the craft of storytelling. This meant making sure what I had flowed with consistency, checking that my narrative voice was strong, and that they story as a whole was evocative/immersive for my reader.
My goal as a writer is to tell a good story. All I want is to bring my world to life though my characters and an entertaining narrative, leaving my readers spellbound.
Now that the first draft has been turned into a second draft, it’s time to release this book baby to the critique partners and beta readers. I’m equal parts excited and nervous about this stage. Hopefully things go well. *crosses fingers*