Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Editing...

(I wouldn't have a disposable cup OR a straw...
but otherwise this is a fair representation!)
The first round of edits - the structural editing - is done (though history teaches me that my editor will still want to shift several scenes around when she gets her hands on it). This is my least favourite bit of editing. I prefer the next stage: tightening it up and trying to make it sparkle. I enjoy spending time on the words, once the foundations are sorted. Only once a house is built, can you start decorating it. So with writing.

Structural editing starts with The Giant Spreadsheet which helps me to see where things are too long and also where there are gaps. Colour-coding which characters are in each scene shows me that sometimes characters seem to have wandered off, mid-manuscript. Where did they go? They need bringing back into the fold. Or I see that a thread that I thought was well woven in is actually half frayed and sticking out. Or not tied off at the end. Seeing the big picture helps me to make sure that it holds together the way I imagined it would.

At the structural stage of editing, I'm still working in Scrivener. It's helpful to be able to move scenes around easily and pull out particular threads if necessary. Also if I need to write any new scenes (and I almost always do), it's straightforward to add a new one.

The next stage - tightening it all up and concentrating on the words - I tend to do on paper. I print out the whole manuscript (again!) and work on it by hand, rather than on screen. I'll definitely be working on a paper copy for this manuscript as I have a couple of long (5 hour!) train journeys coming up and I find it easy to work on a train. My current laptop is a bit of a beast to be carting around when travelling, but the print-out will be fine. I also find it easier to be able to shuffle through pages to find something, rather than scrolling through a document or flipping back through scenes on a screen.

After that, it will be a final polish and then off to the publisher. And then when my editor there has had a look, there will be no doubt be more editing, but hopefully not too much.

I seriously have no idea how people manage to write a book every three months!


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