January 2023 Editing Progress Update

If I really mean to finish my novel this year, that means keeping myself accountable. And in order to do that, I need some concrete dates attached to different steps in the process. This month my aim was to complete a read-through of my draft while making a list of all large story arc issues. In February, I would like to begin actually tackling these structural story edits.

“You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what’s burning inside you, and we edit to let the fire show through the smoke.”

Arthur Plotnik

I am a little behind schedule already, for no other reason than my own dawdling. I’m a chronic procrastinator. I had in my head that I’d like to print my manuscript and pass it on to the two beta readers I have lined up by March 1; four weeks seems far too short to handle all of the structural story edits, though. Can I do it? Only with a lot more discipline in my writing schedule. If I’m being realistic, it is far more likely that a printed manuscript can happen by March 31, giving me 8 weeks to plug away at tightening up the plot.

I have completed a read-through of the draft, and I have a LONG list of notes (I’m being optimistic here, as I’m writing this post on Sunday and hoping beyond hope that I finish reading the last 13,500 words before the time comes to post this on Tuesday—I did). I’ve identified scenes I need to add, chapters that need to be split, a couple of scenes that I may remove entirely, and some that are happening in the wrong place. I have a major decision I need to make about a pretty essential clue and some work to do on rounding out one of the subplots. It’s a lot. It’s overwhelming.

One thing that has been encouraging on this pass is that the thing is not in as bad of shape as I thought it was. I think I had forgotten that this is not a zero draft, or even a first draft. This thing has been fully rewritten once and has had one quick pass of tidying up when I ran it through the Plotstormers course over at Writers’ HQ. I was pleasantly surprised by how the first half reads. There’s a lot to be said for looking at a manuscript with fresh eyes.

“The first draft is black and white. Editing gives the story color.”

Emma Hill

In the past, the sheer size of the project has caused me to shove it aside and focus on other things (See: Reasons why this novel has been floundering since 2020). The pay-out with short fiction is faster, easier, less messy. But as my wise and wonderful gurus over at Writers’ HQ like to say: “The only way to do the thing is to do the thing.” I refuse to let myself look at the heap of work that is involved and give up before I begin. Instead, I’m going to print out my list and tackle one thing at a time. After all, I can do one thing. I may develop a pain in my neck and a knot in my stomach when I think about doing all the things, but I know I can do one thing.

So, I’ll do one, and then one more, and then one more, and one day this book will be a book.

“There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.”

Ernest Hemingway

Published by Aly Writes

I bake. I write. What goes better together than a good story and a delicious fresh-baked pastry? Nothing. And I can give you both. Grab a hot cuppa and join me.

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