Hello everyone! I think we’re technically in the middle of another camp nano? (hard to keep track to be honest- what is time anymore…) And I’m currently completely failing trying to do a readthrough of one of my WIPs, so I figured now was the perfect time to pass on my (*ahem*) wisdom to other people 😉
I know people have been dying to get some good tips from me over the years… And, well, these may not be that good, but they’re technically tips 😉 I will admit I’m also drawing on my subjective experience (my openings tend to start out pretty weak, so I put a lot of focus on those). Nonetheless, I think other writers could probably distil something of use from this anyway… or else get drunk on my stupidity 😉
Apart from the occasional episodes of weeping, which I’ve left out to save time, this is pretty much my process:
Step 1: Pour blood, sweat, tears into a cauldron, bring to a boil, gently simmer for a few years, then pull your deformed baby manuscript out AKA WRITE THE DAMN FIRST DRAFT!
Step 2: Shove this little beastie out of sight- it’s not ready to see the light of day! It may protest and bang on the floorboards for attention, but don’t worry, this isn’t book abuse (that comes later). This is just a temporary arrangement for both your sakes.
Step 3: Bring your book baby out again after a few weeks/months (when its incessant nagging for attention finally gets on your last nerve). Rock it back and forth in your arms. Try crooning a lullaby in its ear as you open that first page for a quick reread…
Step 4: NOPE! That was a bad idea! You were completely wrong to describe this as a baby; IT’S A FRICKIN DEMON!!
Step 5: Okay don’t panic (and don’t stab it through the heart with a stake and sense this evil creature back to whence it came… as tempting as that is, even baby monsters deserve life). As much as you might wish you’d aborted this project earlier and daydream of other projects, this is a living breathing thing making guttural noises in your arms and you’ve got to take some responsibility. You grit your teeth and make your biggest (human) sacrifice, rereading it from beginning to end and making notes of all the (terrible, terrible) flaws.
Step 6: Well, that wasn’t as bad as you thought… it was worse. The list of problems is as long as an immortal life and you think this thing might be possessed by the devil… but as they always say, the first draft is the hardest part, right?!
Step 7: At this point you *drum* your pen on the desk, tapping out solutions to all the problems (you created) in morse code. For some reason, this is soothing.
Step 8: Miraculously, you begin to answer the questions you posed in your notes and now, look at that, you’re brainstorming!
Step 9: Alrighty then, it’s time to slay the beast resurrect this manuscript from the depths of hell. You plan to begin on the biggest issues (no point trying to cover up the boils when the heart of the story is on the outside of the body and oozing blood). *Crack your knuckles* and get to work!
Step 10: Skip around the manuscript at random picking out flaws, then switch to chronological editing intermittently (this is the part of the editing process I like to call THE CHAOS). Also, work on that horrible opening!
Step 11: Okay *focus* now- you can get through the other major edits.
Step 12: Reconfigure some major plot points, focusing on consistent character arcs and smoothing out the narrative (and other writerly things).
Step 13: Get distracted by some simple issue with the prose (that you really shouldn’t be worrying about at this stage).
Step 14: Just keep nit-picking and tell yourself typos are obviously the biggest issue you have to deal with (it may not be true, but it’s comforting).
Step 15: Time to tinker with that opening again!
Step 16: While you’re at it, work on the ending.
Step 17: Find that flaw in the middle that’s been bugging you and brainstorm a million ways to change it.
Step 18: Rewrite entire chapters
Step 19: DELETE! DELETE!!
Step 20: Realise you’ve made a TERRIBLE MISTAKE. Go back to original plan and try and bring the old version back to life!
Step 21: Abandon dead idea and quit while you’re ahead! Time to shove this beastly being (that’s looking more deformed than ever) back where no one can find it!!! Quick!!
Congratulations- your book is now a corpse of its former self you have successfully edited your book!
Now just wait a few months until you have to do this all again!