National Novel Writing Month 2008! (Part 2: Editing)

Emotional anguish on a daily basis, just for you.

A daily editing journal for the months of March-April, August-September 2009.

2009-03-15 (20:30) (Sunday) – 107,006 words – Here.We.Go.

Briefly: I wrote a novel in thirty days in November 2008, and I really want to be able to give it to people for an initial read. But I can’t do that with the November draft, which was barely re-read while it was written.

The solution is to do a quick editing pass, killing the worst atrocities and correcting the most obvious goofs. In theory, it’s possible to do this in about fifteen days of not-so-heavy work, but in practice this kind of thing usually turns into a trap quicker than anyone can expect.

Nonetheless, here we go. Hilarity ensues below.

Eventually, I hope to be able to print a few galley copies via Lulu (CreateSpace: any good?) and send those off to friends, family and unsuspecting volunteers.

What I did today: Re-read chunks of the story. It’s both cringe-inducing and encouraging. The plot is still fairly good, but it’s clear that my writing gifts don’t extend to prose.

2009-03-16 (20:55) (Monday) – 107,725 words – Marked viewpoints, First Chapters

Since my novel has six viewpoint characters (four major, two minor), I thought it would be interesting to go through the novel and mark the viewpoints in different logical styles. Then I gave every character a slightly different font/color to try reinforce the “voice” of a character. (One, for instance, is a high government official: her passages are all in dark-blue Helvetica. This will be more important later on, as I plan on doing a character-by-character “voice editing pass”) This also highlighted a few passages in omniscient viewpoint that I will try to remove or redirect, and allowed me to check how much words every character perceive. As it turns out, out of 107Kwords, our four main characters gets between 19K and 26K, while the two minor viewpoint characters each get 6-7K.

The other bit of housecleaning I made was to start jotting down the cast of characters and the characteristics of the “worlds” of the novel. This will be an ongoing effort. Some inacuraccies were already spotted and removed.

I struggled a bit with verb tense, trying to decide whether I should go for past or present. I ended up going for past, correcting one action scene had already being written in present tense. (It’s not as good in past tense, but maybe that’s a consequence of fiddling with two verbs every sentence. It may read better later on.)

I also reviewed the prologue and the first two chapters, combining a few characters (renaming some of them along the way) and honestly trying to cut down on a few scenes. I removed one particularly weird element that was never truly followed-up, and still ended up adding about 700 words of connecting material despite my best efforts.

Some spell-checking occured as I re-read chunks of the novel.

2009-03-18 (21:47) (Wednesday) – 107,204 words – Snip, snip, snip

Nothing yesterday (although I did upgrade to Dreamweaver CS4), and not much today, but at least I had the moxie to cut about 500 words here and there, including a passage in Chapter 2 that was so boring that even I skipped over it the first time.

Did most, but not all of Chapter 3 (although I moved one chunk to the middle of Chapter 2). Stopped on the verge of a fairly lengthy sequence in which the POV character is someone who disappears from the rest of the novel. I should be able to re-write the sequence from the viewpoint of two other characters, but that’s going to take about an hour of continuous attention that I don’t have tonight.

I’m still very, very rusty in actual prose-writing. It’s not fun to fight with a language.

2009-03-19 (21:49) (Thursday) – 106,566 words – From POV to POV

Did a lot today, just not on the novel. I still managed to get rid of 500 words, mostly by taking a one-shot POV and folding it into another main character’s POV –and do so rather more smoothly than I expected, up to simply changing names on a few lines. I mourn the disappearance of a few details, but tighter is better.

2009-08-11 (22:12) (Tuesday) – 107,324 words – Back, yes, back!

Whew; time flies,  stuff happens and pretty soon you’re one Worldcon older, and out of the con-organizing business for at least a year-long sabbatical.  I’ve been a bad self-editor, I know, but one of the first things on the list of things to do post-Anticipation was a return to re-writing, and I made good use of the interim: I added a scene at the very beginning, tightening the POV issue that was still there, and implemented a character change (including her name) that I had decided on during the lengthy pause.  I haven’t exactly wasted my time, you know… and there’s a few more ideas to put back in the manuscript in the next few days.  Now, the challenge is to not stop again.

2009-08-12 (22:05) (Wednesday) – 107,450 words – No time, not much.

Saw G.I.JOE (fun, but not by much), answered more email and (more relevantly) doodled around the novel in my continuing efforts to remove the last two remaining chunks of omniscient POV.  Someday, I’ll have more time.

2009-08-13 (22:06) (Thursday) – 107,639 words – Bye-bye, OmniPOV.

Got rid of my last integrated omniscient Point-of-view passage (except for the chunk I took out and will re-insert under a different form) then poked around the first third of the manuscript.  It’s rough and unpolished, but I do like the flow of it.

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