Saturday, March 6, 2010

Beginning Mirrorpass Edits

First off, a bit of a landmark: MIRRORPASS has been a complete first draft for two whole months now. Which is kind of awesome to me. The first whole month, I was in one of those post-ending modes where you feel crummy about yourself for no reason at all, and your novel haunts you, and so you feel all cranky and conflicted because suddenly, there's nothing left to do, but it won't leave you alone anyway.

At least in retrospect, that's what I thought was happening. So nobody yell at me. I broke one of those cardinal writing rules and began editing after three weeks. (After this post, actually.)

I'm not going to lie. Mostly, I just wanted to print MIRRORPASS out in entirety. This is like a kind of sin at my house--we recycle paper, people. Imagine using up an entire ink cartridge, and an entire package of paper, on one print job! My dad went pale on that one.

But yeah, it worked out okay, because I found I wasn't ready to go all kamikaze on poor MIRRORPASS. All I wanted was a checkup. Pre-edits, if you will. I'm big on keeping things all in my head. The pre-editing stage, for me, is about getting it all out on paper; finding those anomalies, continuity areas, and alternates that I've kept sticky-noted in my brain during the entire first draft.

I'm not going to lie. I had fun. I had highlighters, and two colors of pens; I stapled each chapter together and kept them in a binder; I had three notebooks, one for changes I made and changes I needed to make, one for syntax and SF wording, and one for timelines, backstory, character traits, stuff like that. Not to mention the files on my computer.

Each comment came with a page, chapter, and scene number. Red pen with stars was for issues I needed to address in the future. Black pen was for inline edits and changes I had already made. At night, I would scribble notes on a whiteboard by my bed, and transcribe them in the morning.

Oh yes. Fear my organization.

I did hit a bit of a wall after reading through the whole first draft. Although I can be uber organized, I can also have irrational fears sometimes. I was just a weensy bit scared of revising. The daily writing pains of my first draft were still quite fresh, and the thought of writing anything new was exhausting.

So now it's been another month...and guess what...I'm ready for edits again!

Here's my mini revelation. I like edits. When I'm in edits, I feel like a real writer. Maybe it has something to do with specific goals and timelines, or maybe it's the comforting notion of being able to use sticky notes, red pens, pads of lined paper. These are all things I can't do during my first draft. My first draft happens in a state of mental isolation. It all has to be held in and managed and not overthunk, for fear of psyching myself out, and wasting precious time. It doesn't feel real to me. I literally have to emerge afterward.

But in the edits? In these wonderful edits, I get to play. I don't have to let the crap stand, I can roll up my sleeves and clean it out! There's a kind of security, knowing what a scene needs to accomplish and what place it fits in exactly. I love that feeling.

Not to say that it's all cupcakes and bubblegum. Second drafts are my favorite, yes, but it always goes downhill from there. At some point I'll be moaning and groaning because, for crying out loud, will this ending ever work right? I'll even hate the good things about my novel. Why did I have to make it flow so smoothly? I can't figure out where to start cutting! Why did this character need such a compelling backstory? He takes up too much room.

I will feel that way, trust me.

But for now I'm having fun.


What I've done so far:

  • Got rid of a slow sequence near the climax, that also had some odd issues I would need to fix anyway. This cut my wordcount from 97k to 94k.
  • Rewrote a scene I accidentally lost ages ago, that has intimidated me ever since. + 2k.
  • Rewrote half of the last chapter, which I hated, because it was all resolution and I couldn't get it right.
  • Have brainstormed how to revise the beginning--lots of alternates to choose from.
  • Have brainstormed a new, possibly stake-raising way for my MC to have a particular revelation. If I implement my new idea, it could really add some explosive power to my climax, and also smooth my resolution chapter.

Current goals:

  • Continue cutting wordcount. Aim for 90-85k
  • Revise beginning, and revise the transition from beginning to middle.
  • Finish revising the last chapter and resolution area.
  • Act upon some beta-reader suggestions, one way or another

Where are you guys in your edits? And hey, don't forget to check out The Line and Before I Fall ARC contests! There's only three more days for Before I Fall, and five for The Line.

Truly and always,

Creative A


dirtywhitecandy said...

I'm like you - I edit with tools! Coloured pens, lists, pens with their designated function, Post-Its. Timelines. What-if flowcharts. I'm a control freak and I love chopping things up and moulding them into something new. Go girl!

Kirsten Lesko said...

Love the post. I laughed at the part about printing it out, because I've done that with my manuscript of couple of times just to see how thick it is! And I agree that editing is fun, mainly because my first drafts are just horrid. :)

Creative A said...

@ dirtywhitecandy: Tools make it so awesome! And your editing style (chop things up, mold anew) sounds exactly like mine. Awesome.

@ Kirsten Lesko: Goodness, when my first drafts are horrid, I dread every second of editing. I need a decently good first draft, because then I feel free to play and perfect. But there is definitely something cool about holding your novel in your own hands. I was tempted to weigh mine on the scale, lol.


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