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
In a recent email from my editor, she told me that she really liked the ending of my new novel and that she thought it was lovely and sweet. I scratched my head. I couldn’t for the life of me remember what happened at the end. Am I the only author that forgets their stories?
I could probably recite the first novel I ever wrote almost word for word in places – that’s how much time I spent editing and tweaking it. The first three chapters especially, as those were the ones that I sent out on submission. I know my my second novel, Millie and the American Wedding, forwards and backwards, too. Not only did I record the podcast it myself (I can still hear it in my mind) but I had to edit it what felt like a zillion times after I self-published it – as that was the book that I didn’t have professionally edited from the outset. But since those two, I’ve started to forget parts of my books and I don’t think I remember them in as much detail.
Since I started having my books traditionally published, I have had greater input from outside sources. When I finish the first draft or two, I proof my novels a few times (both listening to them and reading them on my Kindle). Yet, when it gets to the line edit stage, I stop reading it in it’s entirety. I don’t want to be tempted to undo what minor changes my editor has made, and I don’t want to tinker too much with the bits she hasn’t commented on, as they’ve effectively been given the green light.Instead, I go through the changes she has made, and adapt the manuscript in response to comments. Usually the comments ask me to tidy up some prose for clarity or add in details earlier or later to remind readers of a particular storyline. It’s those little changes that I seem to forget, as I don’t read them over and over in the same way that I do the first few drafts. When I get to the final read through of the typeset pages, when I’ll read my manuscript in entirety again, I’m often surprised by little details, and it sometimes like I’m reading the novel like one of my readers.
When Don’t Tell the Groom was published by Quercus, my editor asked for the first five chapters to be re-written. There was a fairly quick turn around. I sent the chapters and, after that, because the main book had been professionally edited before, the only edit I saw was a typeset copy edit. This meant I only revisited those five chapters once before they were published. When I listened to the audiobook version recently, it was really strange listening to the first five chapters, which weren’t at all familiar to me. There were passages I could pick out as having been in the original book, but there were other bits I couldn’t remember writing (even though I did).
When I went to my publishers, earlier in the year, we filmed a promo interview video for Don’t Tell the Boss. The first question I was asked was ‘tell me what happens’, and I froze. For a minute I was too lost in my thoughts of what happened in the next book in the series, which I was writing at the time, I couldn’t initially answer the question. It took me a while to think back and remember what the plot of the book was.
Is it normal to forget bits of your own books? Do you remember all of the books you’ve written? Or are you a bit like me – the more you’ve written, the more you forget?
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