Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Edits and Duh Moments

I have started on my edits - and despite all my apprehension, I'm really enjoying it. I don't know if I'm doing it 'right' as such, but it feels pretty satisfying all the same.

To help me get an idea of a good process, I looked over on the NaNoEdMo site for some recommendations, and that was useful. But what really helped was Holly Lisle's article on How to Revise a Novel.

Pause for a serious *duh moment*. I just realised as I went to find the article that although that link is the article I've used so far (and has proved useful as such), it's actually not the one I was intending to use. I was planning to use the One-Pass Manuscript Revision. So, um, I'm going to go over that one tomorrow... I'll let you know how that turns out...

Anyway, with the How to Revise a Novel link, editing has been fairly simple so far. (Looking at the second one, though, I think things may be about to change slightly.) I'm finding that although there's a lot of stuff that needs changing, cutting out completely or bringing into line with the rest of the book, what I've got is actually okay stuff. This makes me both nervous and excited about how things will change as I get further into it - I thought the second half was probably a lot better than the first, and I'm a bit worried that perhaps I was wrong and actually the second half is dreadful!

I was expecting it to be harder to cut things out, if for no other reason than losing precious word count, but actually, there's something quite satisfying about it. I'm only five chapters in to the edit (and I will probably go over those again once I've worked through that article) but I feel like I'm really getting rid of the weeds. I am however very much aware that I will probably end up completely scrapping most of the first half of the book - so maybe I'm being unconsciously easy on myself?

As for the Thinking Sideways course - I'm very much enjoying that too. Repeating Lesson Three helped a bit, and after a week I had the three ideas I needed. Lesson Four was all about refining them, and so today I did that with two of them. It was very satisfying, really helping me to get a grasp of what the stories could actually be about. I tried with the third one as well, but it turned out to be a fairly terrible idea that I wouldn't have enjoyed working on at all, so I scrapped it instead. I think the last part of this lesson is about making good ideas great, and I hope to get on to that tomorrow.

My current goal is to finish the first round of edits by May 1st. I'll have to pick up my pace to do that as I'm averaging a chapter a day and I'm on Chapter 5 of about 50 - but I think I can manage that. I'm only writing in the morning at the moment, and if I get back into the habit of working at night too then that ought to solve the problem.

Also, I think I've finally settled on a name for my hero. Hurray!

Monday, 23 March 2009

The Prospect Of Edits

I finished the first draft on the 8th March, coming in at 106K. Since then, I haven't written a word. Nor have I started editing.

When I wrote the last line, I was surprised to find that I actually knew it was the last line. For about half of the novel, I'd worried that I wouldn't know when I hit the end, and that I'd go on and on about nothing interesting until the whole point was lost. I was very pleased to find that wasn't the case. The last line couldn't have been anything else.

Since this was the first time I'd completed anything of this sort of length, I didn't know what to expect, and when I reached the end, I didn't know how to react. I was slightly stunned, slightly jubilant, and also slightly lost. I've been writing this since November 1st. Since the 26th January, I've even known what was going to happen. Suddenly this thing I'd been creating for over four months had a beginning and an end, and the initial writing was - well, over. It was exciting, but also bewildering.

I'd told myself I wanted to take a couple of weeks away from the MS (manuscript!) once I finished the first draft, partly just because I've heard so many people recommend that. But there's more to it than that. The fact is, I just don't know how to start on the edits.

I can do proof-reading. Thanks to Critters, I think I'm okay on short story critiques. And I can just about do reviews - at least, I try, at Pondering Around. But while editing seems to me like it must be a combination of those, actually sitting down with MY manuscript to start on it is an incredibly daunting task. Should I read it through once first, from beginning to end, without making any notes? Or should I plunge straight in with a red pen? And was the two weeks off really a mistake? It seems very distant now, but I guess that's a good thing.

Holly Lisle's How To Think Sideways course is going quite well for me. At least, it was. Lesson Two was all about getting to know your muse and what you really want to write, and I quite enjoyed that. Lesson Three is causing me more problems, since my muse is being rather contrary and not coming up with the ideas I need, but I think that was partly my own fault as I was rather caught up in Karen Miller's Godspeaker trilogy when I tried to 'call down lightning' as Holly calls it. I think being absorbed in someone else's story while trying to generate new ideas for yourself is possibly not the way to go. So tonight I intend to go over that lesson again, and we'll see how it goes.

Tomorrow, it's on to the editing. I think I may start by reading through some of the articles over at NaNoEdMo. I've given up all hope of reaching any decent editing count for March, but April, I hope, will be a better month for that. And I still have eight days to get as much in as I can.

Of course, the biggest problem I have is that I still haven't settled on a final name for my hero. But let's not dwell on the negative...

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

The End Is In Sight

I hit 100K today and I am very definitely on the downhill slope now. I know exactly what has to happen from here on out - there may be a few tweaks as I go along, but I can see the path in front of me and it's both exciting and frustrating. Mainly, it's thrilling, because I know I can finish this now. But the fact that the end is in sight isn't actually making it any easier to reach. Every day I'll write a thousand words, maybe two, and although I've written a decent scene that had to be there the end doesn't actually feel any closer. I know I'm going to get there, and that's great, but I really just want to be there now. Knowing you will do something isn't the same as knowing you've done it.

Oh, yeah. I didn't finish by the end of February. Which means hitting 50 hours of editing for NaNoEdMo is fairly impossible. When I do get to the end, I'm going to put it down for a while - maybe a couple of weeks, possibly even longer. This story's been in my head since the beginning of November (although I was rather distracted for most of December) and I think I'm going to need to let it breathe for a while. I already know a lot of things that will need editing, and there are notes on most of my scenes for things to check and change - particularly for the second half. Although in fairness a lot of them are things that have changed halfway through, so the changes will actually be mostly for the first half! The second half though is full of brackets and sidenotes for me to make sure that names and descriptions match up.

I know I haven't finished this yet, but I've learned so much about how to approach writing a novel next time. The main thing is that while I am at heart a pantser*, life is actually far, far easier if you know where you're going. It's not necessarily faster, but I've found that since my plot revelations in January writing has been a lot less stressful. To my delight, I've also found that it doesn't ruin the excitement for me either, because I plotted in quite a general way - they need to get here, she needs to show up, there needs to be a confrontation, etc. That's meant that there's still plenty of room for inspiration to strike and for my elusive muse to take me off down some unexpected road.

There's still so much to learn, but I'm looking forward to that. I know that I've learned loads of tips and tricks as I've been writing this, mainly picked up from podcasts (e.g., Will Write For Wine, I Should Be Writing, The Secrets, The Writing Show), and I'm quite excited about reading back through the manuscript to see how my writing's developed over the last four months. I've also been following a lot of blogs relating to the publishing industry - writers, agents, editors. Some of my favourites are A Newbie's Guide to Publishing, Karen Miller, Editorial Ass, BookEnd Lit Agency and Erica Orloff. There are numerous others, but those just happen to be near the top of my RSS feeds right now!

I'm also just starting Holly Lisle's How To Think Sideways writing course. I'd been eyeing it up for a while, but then it got to the end of February and it was the last chance for new members to get the Charter member benefits, which included free access to a special forum when you graduate and various other bits, so I decided to take the plunge. I've followed through the first lesson, which is very much a mind-orientated one, and it's very interesting so far, looking at some of the mental barriers we can put up which stop us from achieving things. I'm looking forward to seeing some of the more practical exercises.

You know, I think I'm all blogged out. Time to settle down with one of those podcasts and my knitting I think. (Knitting, incidentally, is my most recent pastime. My mother taught me to knit, purl and rib at the weekend and somehow I am now in the process of making a jumper.)

Oh, and my current word count? So glad you asked. 100,963 words and counting down to the end.

* What's a pantser, you ask? The term comes from 'flying by the seat of your pants' and, in writing terms, refers to someone who doesn't plan. Someone who does plan is referred to as a plotter. There are of course many, many people who fall somewhere in between.