15 July 2011

Editing – The Big Picture continued

There are a couple of things I missed out of the previous post.  The main one being that I edit on hardcopy.
I find it easier to keep track of what I’ve done – red pen everywhere (maybe I should have been a school teacher!)  When restructuring I can move physical pages around to get a feel for the flow, even cutting paragraphs out and stapling to other pages if I split sections.
All the printing and paper makes me finish the job, and finally hardcopy seems more portable, even though my laptop usually travels around with me.
Goals are a huge part of any novel.  When I first wrote Driftwood I had an overall story goal and conflict, but I hadn’t put much thought into the importance of goals for each scene, meaning I had a lot more editing to do when I finished the first draft.  While writing Lives Interrupted I asked myself questions about each section.  Did it really need to be there?  Was there a point to it, rather than just padding out the word count.  Were there goals to be met?  Did it move the plot forward and/or show character change/growth?
Is your overall structure working?  Driftwood is written in chapters, whereas Lives Interrupted is in fairly short sections, each one a different character POV from the previous section.
This big picture read through is also the time I ask myself whether the characters are working, do they change through the story?  Is their change realistic?  As an example Kate in Lives Interrupted is a Kiwi in London.  When I finished the first draft I realised that to emphasise the change in her character she needed to be a lot more happy-go-lucky and optimistic in the opening sections.  More editing.
Earlier in the week I watched an episode of a TV programme where two of the plot points weren’t answered.  They were large enough points to make me think the episode was a two-parter.  Not so.  Don’t do that in your manuscript.
Don’t forget I’m talking about how I edit.  This works for me, but it took me a while to figure out.  Try things and decide what works best for you. 

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