In the beginning was the word…
and then the Author decided it was the wrong word, and changed it. Then added a couple more, after which She took those out again and changed the word back to where it had been.
This is where I am at the moment: hacking through the jungle of verbiage to create a nice smooth path for the rest of you to follow.
since I was going to New York for Thriller Fest, so we could schedule a nice long talk about where the story was going and how I could help it get there. And without making this a post filled with spoilers, I can only say that she pointed out some ways of bringing the story into tighter focus, and making it more exciting.
(So if the book keeps you up all night, you know who’s to blame.)
My editor is my First Reader, the set of eyes that sees how closely what I’ve written comes to what I think I’ve written. And because those eyes are linked to a clever mind with decades of experience at making books better, she can gently point out a well-proven means of transport so I don’t end up inventing the wheel time and again. I mean, there are times when the wheel needs reinventing, and other times when it just makes for a slow and bumpy ride.
(I think about this kind of thing sometimes when I listen to people extolling the virtues of self-publishing. I can’t imagine not working with partners in this venture. What, edit myself? Read a first draft and see instantly what it needs? I might as well give myself a back massage, or perform surgery on my own gallstones.)
The rewrite is also time to take my own advice:
When you’re “finished”: the rewrite
* Whether your “finished” novel has 60,000 words or 150,000, the rewrite is the time when you go through every one of those words, to make sure each contributes to the whole.
* If you are a writer of the Organic school, the rewrite is the time to produce your outline, as an analytical tool instead of a tool for planning. It doesn’t matter if your “outline” is of the traditional I/A/1/a format, or if it takes the form of a spread-sheet time-line, a branching tree-graph, or a wall full of arrow-shaped sticky notes: breaking down just what the plot and sub-plots do—and when—can shed strong light on any problems with the plot structure and the book’s pace.
* If you did write your book to an outline, now is the time to compare the outline with the final result. Do the major plot points of your outline actually coincide with the developments of the story, or are some of the high points submerged under peripheral material and sub-plots?
* Are all plot twists clear? Can the reader see not only where they are going and where they come from, but why they are there?
And so on. (That’s from Crime & Thriller Writing.) I generally find it’s the small things that make me craziest: in The Murder of Mary Russell, there’s a necklace that plays a fairly minor role in things, and because I can use it both as a clue and a personality element, I now find that I’ve done three different and conflicting things with it. And it doesn’t really matter which I do, I’m obsessing over this necklace, in part because I have to leave it in this tripartate conflicting state until I work my way through the final sections, for fear that whatever I choose for the earlier parts will screw up the entire plot later on.
You wouldn’t believe how many PostIts are stuck into this manuscript dealing with that bloody necklace.
Maybe I’ll change it to a brooch and have done with it.