Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Editing Games


Insanity with a Purpose


EditingI am trying so hard to resist cracking open the novel and plowing headfirst into it. I can feel it, calling out to me and tempting me with its misspellings and misplaced commas. It's like the Sirens or something. 

There are articles and advice all over the Internet concerning editing. I've been doing some reading, just to see how other people go about it. I mentioned in my last post that yes, I'm a trained copy editor, but editing a 700 word news story is a different ballgame when you go about editing a 50,000 word novel. There are different things to worry about besides spelling, grammar, factualness, and coherency. Added to the mix are plot development, characters and character development, setting, and a whole laundry list of other elements that make a novel a novel.

Some methods I've researched:
  • Notecards This method worked well for me when I was plotting out the story originally, and it might be worth re-visiting in the edits. Take every scene and put it on notecards, and lay them out in order. It gives you a visualization of your novel and makes it easier to see plot holes, or scenes that are just filler. You can also move as you please. Chris Baty (NaNoWriMo founder) advocates for this method in his book No Plot? No Problem!  and he makes a pretty good case for it. I'll keep it on the list.
  • Different Drafts I can't remember where I read about this method, but your first draft is catching mistakes and correcting them, then a different draft for character development, a different draft for sensory details, a different draft for emotional things, etc. I think this would be useful if you've already seen to it that your story is complete and you're satisfied with the arc. 
  • Lemony Snicket's advice His advice is featured on the I Wrote A Novel, Now What? page on the NaNo website. "Put the book aside and listen, for the first time, to your insecurities. Do not pay attention to what they say but to where they are pointing." I'm a very insecure writer anyway, so the ability to let myself listen to my doubts and the Inner Editor is freeing and encouraging.
  • Holly Lisle's One-Pass Revision I'm sorry, but I don't think a whole novel can be edited in one pass. I know if you take your time with it and focus, it can work for some people, but definitely not for me. I'm wary of it, and I doubt I'll ever try it.
I'm mostly positive I'll be doing a step by step process, and it's going to be difficult to resist fixing the little things before I fix the big things. A novel isn't made just by deleting a few commas. I know that I'll end up needing second opinions, and I plan on sharing with people who aren't close friends or family first, but they'll still be people that I've come to know and trust as writers.

In the meantime, while I wait for my novel to marinate, I've offered my services to fellow NaNo survivors as a second pair of eyes, using my copy editing skills on their novels. It's a good way to pass the time until it's time for me to work on my big, huge, scary novel.

And so, I leave you with these words from Oscar Wilde:
"This morning I took out a comma and this afternoon I put it back in again."

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