NanNoWriMo: Editing The Book
I’ve spent the last month pouring over a paper copy of the book and am now editing furiously in Google Docs. This isn’t my first time editing more than a hundred pages, but it’s proving to be a time-consuming venture. In the process, I’m learning all sorts of fun and not-so-fun things about my writing skills and editing abilities.
The first was doing a character study of four main characters using 34 basic pieces of information (relationships, political beliefs, flaws, strengths, etc) and fleshing out details I hadn’t otherwise considered. This was especially helpful with one character whose motivations had remained a mystery even to me and therefore muddled up the plot. Honing in on his background brought the character to life and he is going to fill in story elements which have been missing. Woot to that.
Secondly, we collectively answered the following questions about what these four characters wanted:
- What does the character want?
- What are their motives for wanting this?
- Where in the story is this made clear to the reader?
- How do we learn what the character wants? Dialogue? Action? Interior Thinking?
- What or who stands in the way of them achieving it?
- What does the desire set in motion?
It surfaced that my central character’s wants weren’t clear and she was being pushed around by the plot, reacting instead of acting. Changes needed to be made. I’ve been able to re-frame the entire last half of the book, which will only require manipulating a few scenes and adding another to work. Fingers crossed on that one.
Entering all the paper edits into the digital copy may seem tedious, but it’s liberating and exciting to be at this stage. I’m experiencing a resurgence of energy and motivation towards completing this work, now that I’m not attached at the hip to a binder and pen. Once I have the edits entered and the outlined changes made, my parents will received copies to edit. After they’ve given their feedback, we will release the book in digital format on the Kindle. It might be another month or so before that happens, given my school-load, internship and job hunt will also be priorities.
Other writing issues have popped up in the editing process – the curse of repeated words and phrases. Does this happen to any other writers? I’ve started a list of words and with the help of the find feature, am able to locate them in the text and edit them right then and there. The biggest offenders? “That” and “Hands.” My proclivity towards speaking with my hands is apparently showing up in all my characters. 😛
This blog entry helped me identify Ten Writing Mistakes Authors Don’t See, among them using repeated words and empty adverbs. I’m giving myself some slack on many of these things, given 50,000 words were vomited forth in one month with little to no pre-thought. I had an idea (from a dream), a loosely outlined plot, character names and some semblance of location.
It seems a little backwards to write the story first and then do the research later, but I think that’s just how I work. I like to see the entire forest and then I’ll start picking which trees need to be eliminated. Or bolstered.
I’ve also scouted out some editing software called AutoCrit. Is anyone familiar with this? Yays or nays? I’ve been able to accomplish the same goals with time, attention and the editing tools in my word processing program, but I’m certain I’ve missed something and having a computer program to spot these glaring details might be worthwhile. Especially if I’m going the self-publishing route and won’t have a real flesh and blood person to do this work for me.
One horrible side-effect of editing: I am now mentally editing my text books. InDesign is the worst offender. The word “that” appears at least once every other sentence. Sometimes two or three times. I cringe inwardly when I locate it.
An added bonus: The writing in my blog entries will hopefully improve. 🙂
**For those who are interested, here’s a brief synopsis**
In a Dystopian future ruled by fear of a deadly virus, a young woman is orphaned when her parents die in a terrorist bombing. She is horribly disfigured and taken in as a ward by the global corporation, Prothero. They use her to test new medical technology by implanting her with an artificial heart, ear and eye. As a discarded experiment, she participates in mandatory national service while plotting a way to extract herself from Prothero’s clutches and rescue a friend from her past.