Saturday, 11 August 2007

Novel Progress - Editing

I've finally started editing my novel (about time too I hear you say!). I'm editing it using the pyramid structure I mentioned in one of my last posts (ie. start with overall story, then move to individual scenes, then individual sentences).

So, I've printed out the novel and, so far, have read the first four chapters (out of thirty) with a pen in my hand. At this stage I'm not allowing myself to re-write anything because the aim is to read the novel as a whole and see how it feels but I am allowing myself to underline bits and scribble "re-write this" or "insert X here" or strike out entire sentences that don't work or phrases that are obvious repetitions or cliches.

This is more of a 'first impressions' stage and I'm asking myself these questions as I read:
  • Does the story flow?
  • Does the language flow?
  • Are there enough hooks to keep the reader reading?
  • How's the pace? If I find anything dull or slow or I'm tempted to skip over it as I'm reading, the reader will too. Anything I find like that gets a big "Pace problem" scribble next to it and will need re-writing later. Is the pace too fast? Do I need to slow it down a little to give the reader the chance to catch their breath?
  • How's the characterisation? Are the characters distinctive enough? Are they 'real'? Do my characters react and act as they should? Is anything they do or say out of character?
  • How's the description? Too much? Too little?
  • How's the dialogue? Do I need to insert 'beats' within the dialogue? (i.e. descriptions of the characters' actions and reactions as they talk). If I ignore all the 'he said' 'she said' in a piece of dialogue can I guess who is talking? (i.e. the voice of each character needs to be distinctive enough to distinguish between them)
  • How's the voice of the main character? Consistent?
  • Do flashbacks interrupt the flow of the story? Could they be moved around to avoid interrupting the action? Could they be cut or shortened?
  • Is the first sentence, the first paragraph, the first page interesting enough to keep the reader hooked and convince them to read the entire novel?
  • Is the story believable/logical?

After I've finished reading the entire novel I'm going to draw up a chapter/character grid (as suggested in "Wannabe a Writer?") so I can see which characters feature in which chapters and analyse how well it works. Anyway, more on that when I start.


Jude said...

Wow! I'm so impressed with your editing approach. As always you sound like you know what you're doing. I know I've got a lot to do when it comes to the editing stage, but I'm afraid my approach will be much more chaotic. Like my writing, I don't have a 'plan'. I find myself working things out as I go along. Less of a pyramid, more of a crazy blob... Keep up the good work! Very inspirational.

Helen said...

oooh, I like what you are doing here. You have summed up what my own vague plan is going to be. Read it through first then start some analysis as recommended by JW-J. Good luck with it. I don't feel ready to crack on with mine yet. Maybe another week or so....

JJ said...

Wow, I'm really impressed with this. For me, it remains another situation where I'll have to reinvent the wheel, as I have no idea what to do until I do it.

CTaylor said...

Jude - *laughs* Do I really sound like I know what I'm doing? I really don't! I'm just making it up as I go along - using all the books and online articles I've read as references. It's so hard to find anyone out there that's definitive (ie. do a) followed by b) followed by c) = editing done!) so I'm blogging about what I'm doing in case it's useful for anyone as clueless as me!

Helen - Glad my plan is similar to yours. It reassures me that I'm not totally heading up the wrong path! I know what you mean about not feeling ready. I didn't feel ready (a month after the first draft) but I felt so damned guilty about it I HAD to start!

JJ - do let me know what you do what you start editing. All comments gratefully received!

JJ said...

God, I just don't know if I'm ever going to get there, Cally. I'm just struggling over the first draft!

Clare said...

Oh, I confess I'm glad I'm past this stage now!

All sounds very organised though, and the rewriting of chaps 1 and 2 also sounds like a good idea. I did the same for my prologue, and it worked well.

ERiCA said...

Sounds like a great plan! I'm preparing to start the edit phase, too. First I'm trying to "read it like a reader" (it's soooo hard to read without marking it up! I give in to the lure of the sticky-note from time to time) and then the revision will be upon me. Ack! =)

A. Writer said...

I have to laugh you say you felt guilty leaving it a month before editing.

I didn't start editing INN, TW? until over a year since I finished the first draft! And I still don't feel like I'm ready to do it!

I'm doing bits here and there but for some reason I can't get into gear.

CTaylor said...

JJ - You will get there, you will!

Clare - the news on your blog about your second novel is VERY exciting! I'm crossing everything for you. Have you got any tips on editing you'd care to share? I appreciate all the help I can get at this stage *she says stumbling around blindly*

Erica - welcome to my blog! I don't think you've commented before. Must check out your blog to see how you approach editing. I did aim to 'read it like a reader' when I started but I just can't leave the red pen alone!

A.Writer - it would probably be much better for my stress levels if I'd left it longer than a month but I seem to have developed this strange compulsion to get everything done NOW. I'm so going to burn out soon! I don't blame you for finding motivation lacking - editing isn't exactly 'fun' is it?!