I am editing.
I. AM. EDITING.
If you haven’t written a novel, you have no idea how tedious this process is. On the plus side, my agent’s changes have been minimal. On the also-plus side, I have taken this opportunity to hoover my manuscript. I am tightening up every line, removing unnecessary words and phrases. The times I was lazy and told the reader what my character felt instead of showing it – deleted. This terrible habit I have of overloading my descriptions with a train of adjectives – picked one and made it stick. That little sub-plot that didn’t move the story but amused me – had to go.
Here’s where I congratulate myself.
As my manuscript progressed, I noticed I had to kill less. My writing was cleaner, more concise as the story deepened.
Here’s where I berate myself.
I created a supernatural world with two sets of opposing beings, and I did not adhere to the rules I created. Oh, I built Microsoft Word tables to show how A interacts with B, which changes A to X and B to W. Believe me, I had tables that broke this down by chapter. BUT I didn’t stick to them. I let myself fall into gray areas because that’s where my story wanted to go. All I did, though, is create confusion and a headache for myself as I correct this laziness. My editing tip for the decade: Avoid gray areas – they make for bad plot continuity.
Here’s where I took a break from editing to make art out of my manuscript.
Kate introduced me to Wordle, and I decided to try it out to see which words I had abused. I LOVE my Wordle. At least 90% of the words on it should be on it. Character names – check. Relationship names – check. Verbs and nouns inherent in my MC’s world – check. This is a book of self-discovery and creating relationships and making connections. If I take out the innocuous verbs and prepositions (which I ruthlessly will do), I’m left with words that I would use to describe my novel’s theme. That’s a win-win to me.
The work was like peeling an onion. The outer skin came off with difficulty… but in no time you’d be down to its innards, tears streaming from your eyes as more and more beautiful reductions became possible.
By Edward Blishen