National Novel Writing Month 2006! (Part 2: Editing)

Emotional anguish on a more-or-less-daily basis, just for you.

The following blog tracks my progress as I edit my fourth novel. Entries will be added regularly until the novel is ready for public consumption.

2007-01-03: Wednesday – Statement of intent.

Here’s the short story: In November 2005, I wrote a novel in a twenty-five days blaze of NaNoWriMo-fueled energy. This novel is promising, but basically unreadable. My goal for the next eight weeks is to edit it until it’s ready to be read by my long-suffering (but wonderful and harsh) circle of First Readers. This blog is a public display of humiliation to keep me going during that time.

About the novel, just so you can make sense of my obscure references later on: It’s a techno-thriller blending mystery and action, set in Ottawa during February a few years from now. The two protagonist are a French-Canadian RCMP officer and an American FBI agent. It starts as an American diplomat is murdered within sight of the Canadian Parliament. It features spies, criminals, terrorists, diplomatic intrigue, dangerous technology, two protagonist who aren’t what they first seem, mayhem at the Palladium CorelCenter ScotiabankPlace Palladium during a Senators hockey game and a car chase down Bank Street during a snowstorm. It’s going to be tons of fun for people familiar with Ottawa: Part of the process will be to make sure it’s just as much fun for everyone else.

I have taken the printout of the complete novel from my archives and set it on my nightstand. The first step will be to read the entire thing straight through, just to see if the whole thing is salvageable.

Rockland, ON – 2007-01-03 21:33


2007-01-04: Thursday – Why do this?

Given the amount of time I’m about to sink into even this very rough re-write, the question is worth pondering: why do this at all? Why rewrite a novel that may never be accepted for publication? Why not do something else?

Well, most of you in the Northern hemisphere have probably noticed that it’s Winter outside. Not being the surfer/skier type, this makes me appreciate the comfort of my home even more. Better yet: I have discovered that despite my procrastination and my lousy work habits, I’m seldom as content as when I’m writing and engaged in a big project. It’s been less than forty days since I have completed Novel#5’s first draft, and I long for the daily grind of writing. Rewriting a 90,000-words long novel is exactly the thing I need to keep me out of trouble until spring.

This being said, my expectations regarding editing are far more reasonable that the daily marathon grind of NaNoWriMo. Rather than a daily three hours (six on weekend days), I’m aiming for twelve hours of editing time per week (six during workdays, probably in three two-hours segments, and another six during the weekend) and a total of sixty to seventy-five hours of editing time. I should emerge from this in time for the open house party I’m penciling in for late February. I’m even leaving myself some time for movies, family, friends, video games and all that good stuff.

Even the preparations are done: I have stocked up on enough new music to power three simultaneous Caribana fests, am getting back into the habit of cooking during the weekends for the rest of the week and have warned friends and family that they can expect the thinking-about-the-novel stare for the next few weeks. I’m ready.

In other news: still reading the first draft. Eeek, typos! More coherent thoughts tomorrow.

Rockland, ON – 2007-01-03 21:33


2007-01-05: Friday – First assessment.

After making it through the first draft without scooping my eyes out, here’s a top ten list of things to fix:

  • Hello Hasan: While my protagonists are out there in the cold, chasing down suspects and shooting bad guys, someone has to be at the office taking care of the boring stuff. This backup nerd, in turn, can serve as a useful counterbalance to certain creepy ethnic stereotypes that snuck into the manuscript despite my best intentions. So let’s say hello to a brand-new secondary character, an amalgam of several "faces" that will get the extra benefit of a fiesty personality.
  • Unlike their writer, our protagonists have romantic lives: Good thing I mentioned the hero’s wife early on, because she doesn’t do much for the rest of the novel. Same thing with our heroine’s unseen boyfriend: She could call him once in a while, you know.

 

Last Updated:
January 2007

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