April’s Camp NaNoWriMo is wrapping up and my project for the month was to edit my novel.
Edit… Simple right? I thought all I had to do was read through it a few times and fix my mistakes so it would be ready for beta readers. (That’s how I edit a short story. Why would a novel be any different?)
Boy was I mistaken! Holy crap!
FIRST OFF: I thought revising and editing were mostly the same thing.
- Revising focuses on how your story reads, filling in plot holes, making characters act appropriately, ensuring the story makes sense, consistency, and flow.
- Editing focuses on the mechanics of the language.
PLUS – each step in the process has been getting progressively harder… I can’t imagine the challenges I’ll have just trying to get someone to actually read the novel when I’m done!
A TIP I learned – Do NOT edit the document before revising it! All the time you spend editing will be thrown away when/if you discard the scene or rework it. Trust me. I did this.
It takes me twice as long to revise a scene as it did to write it! What’s the saying? Writing is rewriting? I COMPLETELY get this now. I wrote “draft zero” in 45 days. I’m now 30 days into my revisions and anticipate another 30 days at least before I’ll have any kind of draft I’d show someone. For someone who just likes to get stuff done, this is a little frustrating. I focus on completing one scene at a time and this helps me feel like I accomplished something. How can writing a novel take a full year or two? I now understand.
Oh! AND the emotions I feel while revising the novel make it difficult at times to continue… (Like not shoving everything into a drawer while staring at a haphazardly strung together “sentence” or my heart sinking at the stiff dialogue.) Luckily, with the downs, come a balance of ups. Like THIS POLL that encouraged me people would keep reading past my first page. (Again thank you to everyone who read it and responded.) These ups, along with just determination to finish what I started, keep me going.
TOOLS that have helped me:
- WRITING BLOCKBUSTER PLOTS: A Step-by-Step Guide to Mastering Plot, Structure, & Scene by Martha Alderson. (Amazon link here) I stopped in the middle of the month to read this book after finding some gaping caverns in my plot. This will forever change the way I plot a book. I was doing a lot of the techniques in the book naturally, but having an understanding of them gave me a new perspective. The most eye opening part was how important strategic and deliberate pacing is to keep your reader engaged. Looking at your scenes as to who’s actually in charge (protagonist vs antagonist) helps with this pacing.
- IT WAS THE BEST OF SENTENCES, IT WAS THE WORST OF SENTENCES by June Casagrande. (Amazon link here) I’ve been out of school for 20+ years and felt I needed a refresher on sentence structure. I’m not done with this book yet, but already have learned a tremendous amount. I lack skills in sentence structure and other rules of grammar. I’m learning that no matter how hard I try, I’ll still need an editor. I’m cheap and struggle with spending the money. What is the statistic? The average self-published book sells less than 10 copies or something like that?
PLUS – with all of this, I DIDN’T WIN CAMP NANOWRIMO! I set a goal to expand my novel during the revision process from 50K to 80K by adding details and emotions. I’ll meet this goal, but it will take much longer than expected. Deleting things is part of the rewrite. I’m finishing up April at 66-67K, which did not meet my Camp NaNoWriMo goals. BUT I’M OKAY WITH THAT! I’m getting a better novel out of the ordeal and I’ve learned so much about the writing process. (An additional win – I worked on the novel every day in April.)
So, with all these things and the time and effort into writing, why do I do it? What keeps me going? Because my characters want their story told? Because I enjoy writing? Those are all true, but the real reason… The major driver?
Because I hope one person reads and ENJOYS my book.
Really, that’s it.
Thanks for reading.