This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
by Anna Bell
I’m working on my eighth novel (not including the two that are festering in my office drawer), yet with every book I write, I’m always surprised at how varied the editing process is. Whilst I use the same tools and processes, each book has had such contrasting editing needs that they all feel completely different.
I’m working on the first big edit of my novel, based on notes from my editor (and after this it will go for line editing). My editor has given me a great steer and, fundamentally, the problem with my book was that there was a lack of tension between my characters. Cue changes of personality, characters that had taken a back seat making more of a starring role, and a few tweaks to the storylines to make it work better. I’ve now reached that magic ‘hallelujah’ moment where the book seems to have clicked and it it holds together – the only problem being that the ending still seems never-ending.
Every time I go through the manuscript I create a ripple effect; changing one little thing means I have to keep going backwards and forwards tinkering away to make it all consistent. I’m three or four chapters away from finishing this round of fixes and I know that I’ve got to do at least one more round to tidy up some more loose ends that I’ve created. I feel like I’m ironing a bed sheet – every time I iron one bit, I’ve wrinkled a bit more, and I’ve got to go over it again.I don’t think I’ve ever done an edit that has had so many ripples. Usually I just tinker with chapters, but I think in changing my characters and their personalities I’ve altered the dynamics and that means I’ve had to change and amend lots of things. I’ve had to add in extra chapters and explain the (new) character’s motivations, as well as tweak even the tiniest sentences, which referenced their old personalities.
My other major difference with this book is the length. I’ve never had the problem of writing too much. My Millie and the American series of books were on the short side, they were only 60,000 words, and my Don’t Tell the books were between 85,000 and 95,000 words. When the first draft of this book went off to my editor it was 102,500 words – the most I’ve ever written in one novel. Now, having added in some extra chapters with the editing, my book has grown to 107,000 words. I’m desperately trying to shave words off at every opportunity. My next run-through will have to be a bit ruthless, as I’m going to have to take out as much redundant prose as possible. I’m used to paying close attention to word counts, but I’m usually desperate for it to go up not down.
As monotonous and difficult as editing is, I love the fact that when you’re writing a novel it can be such a different experience between books. Every day is different and it certainly keeps me on my toes!
Whatever happens, my book is due to wing its way off to my editor this week. With the deadline looming I’ve got to focus on the ripples, the word count and those all-important dynamics. Wish me luck!
Does your editing process vary from book to book?