I've started editing novel 2.
Actually that's not strictly true. I've been editing it since I finished the first draft two weeks ago but in a tricking-my-brain into thinking 'no I'm not' kind of way.
What do I mean?
Basically I gave myself permission to do NOTHING to novel 2 for two weeks. "Two weeks off," I told myself, "you don't have to write, you don't have to edit, you don't have to read a 'how to' book. You can just watch episode after episode of Prison Break if you like. Or read someone else's book. Or sleep for hours. Or do some exercise to try and work off your writer's arse."
Actually I did all of those things but somehow, by giving my brain permission not to do any work on novel 2, my brain rebelled (those who know me well know that the best way to get me to do something is to tell me not to!). Anyway, so my brain rebelled and started interrupting my TV watching/reading/sleeping/exercising and began whispering (sometimes shouting) little ideas for how novel 2 could be improved.
I wrote the ideas down, in a notebook specially designated as the Rewrite Notebook, and over the last fifteen days I've accrued 31 pages of rewrite notes, each one numbered and labelled with the name of the character the rewrite involves. Seeing them all written down like that, in a higgle-de-piggle-de fashion was a bit daunting. How the hell was I going to work them all into the novel in a way that made sense?
Today I got out my index cards. I'd bought them to help me plan novel 2 but I'm not much of a plotter, more of a 'I know the beginning, I know the end and I've got no idea what happens in the middle' type of writer. But my index card purchase wasn't a waste. What I did was select 3 different colours. Pink for Character A (written in the first person), blue for Character B (written in the first person) and yellow for Characters C and D (written in the third person). I then went through all the chapters in novel 2 (currently 55!), selected the appropriate colour for the character(s) narrating that chapter and wrote down a summary of the scenes and the setting within that chapter.
I ended up with this (arranged in rows of ten, from left to right, on my floor):
I then got out my Rewrite Notebook and wrote each rewrite note onto a coloured post-it note (again, colour-coded to the character it involved) and tried to work out which chapter would
need to be rewritten to incorporate that edit.
And ended up with this:
It's messy, it's not fixed in stone (some of the rewrite notes may have to be moved to a different chapter) but suddenly my 31 pages of notes don't look quite so daunting. They look manageable, like I can pick up, for example, chapter 2 (2nd from left, top row), work through the post-its attached to until they're incorporated into the rewrite, and then move onto the note attached to chapter 3.
I'm sure it's not going to be as simple as that (editing never is!) and although I've already been through the editing process once with novel 1 this is a completely different book with a very different structure so it's not as though I can just apply what I learnt from editing Heaven to this novel and be done with it (which is just as well because I've completely forgotten how I went about editing that book!).
I'm not sure if this technique will help anyone else trying to pull a shitty first draft into shape but I thought I'd throw it out there, just in case...