Shows What I Know
To get this blog going in some fashion, I posted a mildly sarcastic entry about how blogging about editing my book-length manuscript could not possibly be interesting to anyone even though it’s what I should blog about, apparently, as a writer and stuff like that.
Much to my surprise, I got some pretty positive feedback about that crappy blog, turns out people do want to hear about my book editing, some people, anyway. Since some is more than none, I will go right ahead and blog about it, then, so there.
At the moment my manuscript is just under 100 000 words. When I started this rewrite it was about 86 000 and I’m only on chapter 11. I prefer to stick to the 110 000 to 120 000 word count that seems to be preferred for most novels, so that will be an issue at some point, but I have decided to let it ride for now.
The biggest problem I had when I first started was twofold; literally how do I organize a rewrite and how do I know when to stop screwing around with it and send it out? These two issues, and a few others, let this poor baby of a manuscript languish in idleness for far too long. This is the fourth novel-length manuscript I have written though, and by far the best. Thankfully I came to my senses (?) and finally had at it. I can publish short, I have to publish long eventually and stop being a whiny baby.
My salvation came in two forms. The first was a book I found, From First Draft to Finished Novel. There are any number of books and websites about editing a manuscript and to be perfectly frank, this one is probably not really any better or worse than any other. What this book did give me, however, was the one thing I found overwhelming, and that was how to physically organize the editing process in a way that made sense to me. Fourteen piles of different coloured sticky notes stuck to me, my desk, the walls and the dogs are all fine and good, but it gets a little confusing when you have something like 50 (yes, I know) characters and almost a hundred thousand words. I literally did everything this book told me to do. It took forever. FOREVER. However, it gave me a system of organization that I am thankful for now.
I came across the second solution fairly recently. For about a year I never stopped asking writers this annoying question, how do you know when to stop editing? How do I know when my book is done, for the love of all things that are holy? I received many answers to this question, here are some of them:
“You just know.”
“It’s never done.”
“I keep working on it while I send it out for publication.”
The one thing all of these answers have in common is that they are absolutely no help whatsoever. This, though, is. Someone finally answered the question! Thank you! According to this system, and I am all about systems, I am somewhere in between edit two and three. Fine, good, great, just needed an answer here, people! On my own I will edit this sucker until there is nothing left of it but a horrible, bloated corpse of a story that bears little resemblance to the inspired original. I also found this four step process interesting because I read somewhere else that you need to write at least four books before you write one that’s any good. I don’t know if that’s true or not, and it doesn’t matter. The fact that the manuscript I’m working on is my fourth manuscript just makes me feel good about myself.
I should finish chapter 11 today, so I’ll let you know how it goes.