I have decided to put aside one day a week to edit my completed novel until it shines. Today is editing day. Why today? Why a Thursday? Well it is as good of day as any.
I have started the editing process already. The following are the steps I have taken:
1) Distance – I have heard it advised that authors put their novel away for at least four weeks before rereading it or attempting to edit it. This distance is meant to get us to look at the novel without as much emotional attachment and have a fresher set of eyes when we begin to edit it. I actually let this novel sit for a few months as I then started work on a sequel to it. The only problem with this step may be that you don’t want to go back at all once you have left it for a while. Fortunately, this is not the case for me. I still am as excited now as I was when I wrote it.
2) Print Out #1 – I actually wrote this entire novel in long hand and then went through and typed it. After it was typed I printed it out and went through it trying to find any typos and spelling/grammar mistakes that technology can’t pick up. I started to cut any extra words that just did not need to be there. I managed to get it down from about 90,000 words to about 75,000 words just by cutting unnecessary dialog tags, adjectives and repetitive phrases. I certainly had put in a lot of unneeded fluff!
3) The Read Aloud – I went through the entire novel, reading it out loud. This was great for dealing with the flow. I managed to eliminate or change words or sections that just did not have any real fluidity to it. I might have sounded crazy sitting in my back garden on that lovely sunny weekend reading it out loud to myself but it was time well spent.
4) Set Aside Time – I realised that I have set aside writing time every night before I go to sleep to write my work in progress. I have even set myself the goal of at least 500 words before I go to sleep. I have never set aside a proper time for editing my completed novel. That is what I have done now. So Thursdays it is.
What happens today then? Well hopefully when I get home from my paid job I will get right to work. I have the hardest job of all today. I have to “kill my darlings” and I do not want to. The novel is a fantasy novel written for young adults. I have written so many lovely descriptions of my character’s world. I love the world building that I have done but I have to admit, I may just have overdone it slightly. I need to get to the meat of the novel and this means rewriting scenes to have less description and more action. I need to make sure the “show me, don’t tell me” motto lives on.
Hopefully all the hard and sometimes slightly painful work will pay off.