Erin Green Author - blog
So far 'Week one' of editing has gone well. I've cleaned up my manuscript ensuring that notes to myself are visible and aren't lost within the text. My manuscript is always written in pink, blue and green font - a colour for each main character. I avoid black font as it never signals fun to my brain! Whereas my rainbow manuscript is far less scary. I've checked that each character has her correct font colour for each scene, as that throws me in a ridiculous fashion when I'm scooting through looking for a particular incident. I've also tidied the font size, font choice, heading alignment, margins and paragraph indents, all in the name of tidy and ship-shape. Ironic, given that I'm about to start ripping it apart, reorganising and resequencing the action when I find a scene either in the wrong place or a conscious shuffle adding pace to the story. But that's just me, I need order in my creative world! In a practical manner, I need a document that I can show a third party and they'd have a chance of understanding the story, the characters and the occurring conflict before reaching 'the end'. Right now, you could read the basic bones of my story and imagine the finished book. The vital ingredients is there, what I need to do is highlight the specifics by providing additional information be it emotional, physical or thematic flavourings to complete the reading experience.
I follow a set pattern whilst editing, as it isn't my favourite task. I'm more a 'Willy Wonker' imagination type writer, who's never happier than when lost in the zone and my fingers fly about the keyboard. This cut, paste and moving the building blocks of a story frustrates me as it's never the whole scene that needs moving, but part of it. And the conversation that was mid-scene needs knitting in elsewhere as it contains vital info. But where? And you end up changing details to fit its new position in the story. I find that frustrating, like puzzle solving. It's also exhausting for me - when plain draft one writing is exhilarating. I don't get a buzz from editing until further along in copy editing when I see my book emerge from the pages. I think of draft one as a stone mason blocking out a basic figure shape and the editing process as the fine chiselling creating the detail. Proofreading is the final polish, of course.
Because my creative spirit isn't fully engaged whilst editing I tend to couple this process with planning for my next book. This enables me to visit my 'Narnia' place and indulge my imagination. Otherwise I end up being a moody-mess without the creative outlet each day. I lean heavily on the arts, crafts and music during this time but nothing beats creating from afresh. In the coming months, I'll be asked 'what I wish to write next' so I might as well maximise my time. My intention is to have the majority of a book planned out by the time I finish editing this current project. No doubt it'll be my NaNoWriMo project for November - surprise, surprise!
From this point onwards, I'll be rereading my current ms and jotting down notes as I read: questions, queries and additional research that's needed. Simply notes and snippets that are blatantly obvious to me that need addressing before I move forward. Depending on what comes to light - determines my next move. If it's research then I need to question how much? Do I need a complete new topic threading through the manuscript or is it the finer points of a topic which need my attention? Have I lost my way with a particular theme? Has the theme that's evolved better than what I'd planned? Or do I prefer the original ideas? In which case how do I strip back and amend? This is where the 'experience' card plays its hand. What have I learnt from writing my previous books, what mistakes did I make and what cost me the most amount of time? What I'll want to avoid is lengthy research or sidetracking, loads of additional writing only to be unhappy with the final drafted chapters and to rip them out!
The essence of editing for me is starting with an orderly manuscript that evolves into a creative mess - which some how is finally reordered to create a book. Its like rearranging your house - there's always a point when you stop, look around at your possessions and wonder why you even started the task as you'll never find homes for all these belongings! If you plough on it all comes together and you're happy with the final result.