The Saturday before I went away – a very nice long weekend in Whitby, beautiful sunshine, lovely hotel, good food, great company – I finished the first draft of what I’ve workingly-titled ‘CPA-1′. Finishing it before the holiday meant I had a few days’ solid break from working on it, which I find useful before editing. I like first drafts but revising and reworking is often a lot harder for me, as I find it challenging to see it as a reader rather than a writer. Putting it onto my kindle as a book really helped as I was able to get away from the desk and laptop, where I write,and avoid the ‘marking’ feeling of doing it on paper. Instead, reading in the sunshine in the yard on my kindle made it feel much more like the reading experience I was after!
Before I read it, I also went back to Rachel Aaron’s book 2k to 10k which has an interesting section on what she does and how she approaches her editing to create a ‘reader’s experience’ rather than trying to look at it as a writer. See my post here for how that changed my writing in April. May’s been a similar story, although a few more days off for various reasons, which has hit my word count! It’s taken me about six weeks to write this story so far, mostly in the daily hour window I’ve allocated to writing fiction, with a bit more time at weekends.
I was pleasantly surprised by what I found when I re-read it. There’s a lot of work still left to do but I was pretty pleased with the story so far. It’s about two Chronology Protection Agents, who are assigned to work together at the Agency which itself is charged with protecting the timeline – what that involves is one of the major conflicts the partnership has. I’ve really enjoyed writing it, and enjoyed the re-read.
The editing process
First up – a section/scene break. While I’d written it in scenes, I did want to reorganise where I thought section breaks would be, which was easy using Scrivener as it’s just drag and drop. Each of the big post-it notes below represents a section, with three or four major scenes in them so far. Then, highlighting each scene according to its purpose so I can see where the character building/major plotline/subplots take place and whose point of view they’re in – I was surprisingly reassured that at the moment it seems pretty well balanced!
The smaller post-it notes give me three major jobs for each sections, in order of importance – a to do list, essentially – and the notes around the edge are some more generalised thoughts about what needs to happen, how characters need to come across and so on.
This is a major edit – I’d probably expect this to take most of June. There were also plenty of smaller things I noticed as I was reading, which will come in a minor edit once I think the big issues are solved. As Aaron says, it’s almost pointless line editing when you’ve got a rewrite to do, and although it was a real struggle not to go back to my laptop and start doing that, I resisted!
What I like about this approach is that it’s VERY visual – easy to put together, easy for me to see what I have to do and where the major issues are, and that there is a built-in to-to list around each section. I like this way of planning and thinking, rather than making a strict list. I’ll see in the next few days how workable it is; I suspect I’ll end up putting some of it onto another sheet for more details, but for now it’s a great starting point on what to do next.