The Highs and Lows of Editing

June 26, 2017

Writing is hard. This is known. But editing is like trying to play join the dots in a dark room, and a long book is even harder. As Stephen King says:


“Writing fiction, especially a long work of fiction can be a difficult, lonely job; it’s like crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a bathtub. There’s plenty of opportunity for self-doubt.”


Editing is hard! 


Over the past few months, I've been editing the first draft of my next book – a 200K word monster. Well, I say 'draft', but what I mean is 'dog's breakfast'. Yes, I'm one of those authors who writes first drafts as quickly as possible and the resulting product is nothing but a mishmash of gaping plot holes, underdeveloped characters, vague settings and plot twists that look more like wayward detours that may never get you back on track. I leave it for my editing process to fill in the gaps and tidy the mess. But I've got gaps so big I need truckloads of cement to fill them.


I started editing this WIP (work in progress) with a fire in my belly and passionate enthusiasm. As I reread my story, I experienced bouts of jubilation, 'yes, my best book yet!' moments. I whizzed through those first few chapters with breezy ease. But, as I got deeper, the old self-doubt monster reared his ugly head and the mountain of work seemed to grow bigger every day. In fact, I sometimes wondered if I wasn't actually going backward.


Meet a self-doubt monster. Ugly aren't they? 


I worried more about the deep lack of credible character motivation, those pesky plot holes and other incessant inconsistencies that refused to hide behind an almost unnoticeable deus ex machina (no one will notice, will they?).


Add to my doubt the fact that I kept adding things, changing things, deleting things, which means I have to go back and add, change and delete other things. Turns out adding a butterfly in Chapter Two creates a terrifying tsunami in Chapter Eighty-One. Damn you Cause and Effect!


About half way through the first edit, I decided I had structural problems. Structural problems!!!!! So, like a builder taking off the cladding of a structurally unsound house, (and swearing like a builder in the process) I went back to the outline and reworked the lot. Eighty-five chapter's worth of plot outline completed, I started again on the second edit.


And now? The self-doubt is still there, but it's under control (that's what I'm telling myself). I've always found this part of the process a challenge, but with such a huge work, the editing is even tougher. I've got ten chapters to go with this edit, then of course the third edit begins, but I'm finally starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe, just maybe this book will have some coherency. Let's hope so for writer and readers alike!


There'll be more announcements soon about this current WIP to be released later this year. But if you'd like an exclusive peek at the title, cover and first chapter you can sign up to my newsletter and get it all delivered to your mailbox.




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