Live Editing, Part 2

This is part two of my "live editing" process of a novel. Part one is here.

After editing the first scene yesterday, I realized I wasn’t going to get very far until I reread the whole thing. I didn’t let myself do more than the occasional copy edit as far as changes; I just read through all 50,000 words to see how the novel stood up as a whole. My verdict? The opening 5k is weak, but after that, man, this thing takes off. Half-way through it I entered my most favorite of mental states, the one where I am all caught up and tense and anxious to find out what happens next—forgetting that I’m the one who wrote the damn thing. When I get to that point, I know I’ve hit something good. There were several parts where I choked up, and there was one where I cried.

That said….

It’s rough. And in a twist, it’s under rather than over-developed. Some of this comes because I wrote it in just over two weeks and with NO preparation whatsoever. None. This started as a Vicodin-induced dream, and I quite literally pulled every word out of the ether. With my NaNoWriMo novel, which needed hardly any editing at all, I was using characters I already knew for the most part, and I took all of October and part of November to do research. Nothing like that here, and it shows. Most of the characters take several thousand words before they really have any character to speak of. Plotlines start, then drop off, then show up again with new clothes on. Scenes start by saying "The first time X happened" and then X never happens again. At this point, the novel is a rough sketch. You could read it and maybe even enjoy it, but it’s going to be a lot better with some polishing and rearranging.


After taking this morning to be giddy and crazy about a first release, I sat down and made some notes. Actually, I stood up, and worked at my markerboard.

This image is pretty fuzzy (taken with my iSight camera, so give it a break), but this is how I started. I just wrote down the title, then decided I wanted to list the themes, the devices used to expose those themes, and the conflicts the characters use to explore them. I just wrote down whatever came into my head, but in the case of theme and conflict, I chose the element I thought best summed up the story in that regard and gave it a star. Normally I’d have just stopped with this, then erased or written on the bottom, but I knew I wanted to post this on the blog, so I typed it into Curio. This is what I got from that exercise.

On that Curio map I also included both changes I knew I needed to make and things that I was concerned about but won’t really know how to fix until I get into the thick of the thing. My game plan now is to start redrafting scene one later tonight, after I take a break and read for awhile. I am prepared for this to be a grueling process, because I don’t have a clear vision of how this opening is going to look. I also strongly, strongly suspect that whatever I put down now will end up being changed once again when I have gone through the whole. Because the first scene is ALWAYS the last to lie down and behave for me. Always.

I will report back on how that goes, and I will also give you a peek at opening version 2.0 once I have it.

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