The Thrill of Editing One’s Work

In My Writing on November 3, 2013 at 9:59 am
My manuscript.

My manuscript.

Hello there! I would like to start this post by saying, yes, I changed my blog theme. I know that it’s a bit jarring when one changes the look of one’s blog but it had to be done. I’ve recently come upon a few blogs with the same theme as mine. I know that there are a limited amount of free Word Press themes and that it’s bound to happen, but it somehow leaves me feeling somewhat less special. I think I’m actually following one of the people so I felt that it was time to change. I don’t want to be distracted from someone’s content by such a niggling little thing. Also, I really like this theme as it makes much better use of the space. We’ll see how it goes. I like to change things up from time to time.

Anyway, today I’m going to talk about my writing. You might remember from one of my posts that I am going to start working on revising a novel that I finished last year. I sent it off to a competition back in December and haven’t touched it since then. And then, all of a sudden, the urge came upon me to dust off the latest draft (Draft 5, that is) and see if I can make it readable. When that urge hits, as my writerly friends will know, it just cannot be ignored.

I’m not sure what your editing process is like, but I must have paper. I write things out long-hand and then type them up. I print out my draft and then scribble scrabble all over it and then add the changes to my Word document. It’s just the way I roll. The words flow from my brain, down the right side of my neck and shoulder and then all the way down my arm, past my fingers and into the pen which then puts it on the paper. Screens intimidate my words. They flee to the farthest reaches of my person and will not be coaxed to where they’re meant to be. I’ve tried so many times. Sometimes I even write my blog posts out on paper before committing them to technology. Usually those are my best and most well-thought out posts. (If this one sucks, I blame it on technology and the fact that the words are shooting from my brain to splat onto the screen in real time.)

Therefore, I needed my novel printed out so that I can work on it. I contacted this lovely company in Essex called Acors Press that we use for our printing needs at work and they have printed my manuscript for me. I would like to give them a little shout out here because I love them so much. I work in London and as you can imagine, people can be quite cold and distant in the city. I can’t remember how I happened upon this company, but a few years ago we needed something printed and I found them because they had the best rates. But they’re also the loveliest people. They are so friendly and their work is of the highest quality. If you are in England and need a manuscript printed out please do consider them. They are super nice and that makes a huge difference.

So, I received my manuscript in the post on shiny, high-quality paper and I had to show it to anyone who would look because it was fantastic to see it printed out like that. I felt like I was showing people my new baby. They oohed and aahhed appropriately.

And then I started reading it and realised why I didn’t win the competition. Oh my days…

That’s ok, though. I’ve got a plan. I’m going through chapter by chapter with a notebook in hand and writing down questions for myself to answer. For example, in one chapter I’ve got a character who isn’t good at lying. One of the other characters says so. Then a few chapters later, he can lie effortlessly. Also for each chapter, I’m making a list of characters who feature in that chapter and I’m going to re-interview them.

This is something that I really love doing. As you may know from earlier posts, character development is really important to me. I want to read about characters who seem like real people. Some authors are able to do this really well and some aren’t. I once read some advice from someone about interviewing characters to see what they’re really like. It sounds really silly and a bit mental, but it works really well. You probably won’t use the stuff that you get from the interview but it will help you to get a better sense for what they’re like and you’ll be able to convey that in your story a lot better. I interviewed my characters back when I first started editing the first draft, but the story has changed so much since that draft and as I’m reading draft 5, I’m finding a lot of character inconsistencies. It will be time-consuming, but I want to get it right so I’m willing to put in the time.

Another thing for my notebook is that I’ll have a list of items that the characters have in each chapter as well as key points to remember from the chapter. ie. So-and-so isn’t a good liar. One of my characters produced a rope from Lord-knows-where in chapter 10 or something. It was pretty interesting (and jarring) that he produced this thing out of thin air.

So, yes, this is going to be a painstaking process, but I think that it will be worth it to finally have this thing finished. After 3 years. It will probably be 4 years before I fully finish it. Oh dear… I need to wrap up this blog post and get editing!

  1. Looks like you will be busy in the lead up to Christmas, and who says buying presents is stressful! Best of luck!

  2. Rope appears out of thin air, this is why I love NaNoWriMo. >:D

    • I know, right?? There are so many other problems with this story, but it would be far too embarrassing to list them all.

      • Maybe I’m a glutton for the bizarre. I’ve been meaning to check out the bizarro-fiction genre anyway. ๐Ÿ˜€ I assume you did not partake in the NaNoWriMo traditions of ‘the traveling shovel of death’ and including ‘Ted’ (or was it ‘Tod’?) in your novel?

      • I’ve not heard of any of those things! I was really in the zone for NaNo, though and didn’t spend much time reading things about it. I did actually try to write a good story though without resorting to strange non-story related sections just to get the words down. The only ‘cheating’ I did was that I didn’t use contractions. You wouldn’t believe how much of a difference it makes. And how difficult it is to go back and change it all lest your characters sound like robots. ๐Ÿ˜›

      • Hah, what you called ‘Cheating’ I called ‘all in a day’s work’. ‘Crumbs on a crumb cake’, ‘help in absense of my inner editor’. Although, I was going to be a rebel this year and edit my book, but I’ve decided to do something crazy instead… Hah.

      • I must hear more about this craziness!

  3. I’ve printed out my work in the past for editing purposes but I found it annoying and fiddly to be honest. I find it much easier to do it all on the screen.

    I never thought about getting it printed out ‘properly’ like you did though, you must be right posh to be doing that kind of thing.

    Interviewing your characters is an intriguing idea though.

    • Bahahaha! No one who knows me would ever call me ‘posh’. My printer is just a bit small and sad. She could never print out all of those words. I just can’t edit on the screen. I need to write with pen and paper. So it’s worth it for me. Maybe not for you if you can do it on a computer. It would definitely be more cost effective that way.

  4. Interviewing your characters?! That sounds out of this world yet sounds incredibly useful as well. Fleshing them out and getting to know them better so that it translates to a more convincing or consistent them in the book. Sounds brilliant. Best of luck and have fun with your editing, Buffy!

    • Thanks! Interviewing my characters means that I never get stuck for ideas. It’s really interesting to see what they come up with. Even though they’re created by you, you’ll find that you don’t know everything there is to know about them. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I just love the sight of all those pages printed and stacked together – it is a reminder of all your hard work and what you’ve accomplished (even if more work is in store!) Good luck with your editing!

  6. I’m an on paper person as well. I’m not writing a novel but a thesis which is essentially the same thing (except I know only four people will ever read mine, I hope you get more readers than that!!). The fact that I work on paper drives my supervisor mad as he wants to see what I’m doing as I go along but everything’s on scraps of paper floating around my desk and my handwriting isn’t exactly easy to decipher!

    Good luck with your editing ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. I really like your new theme, you were right it’s a much better use of space. I’m glad that you sound excited to edit your novel and I’m right there with you when it comes to paper. Everything I write goes down on paper first as a computer screens to only produce vacant looks from me.

    I like the idea of interviewing characters, I’ll have to try it for my novel. Great post and thanks for sharing! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thank you! I’m growing quite fond of my new theme. I like seeing the three latest posts right there. It looks much nicer.

      Another old school person! Wooo! It’s very time consuming writing everything down, but it just works better for me. I’m like you with the computer screen. Also, working on the computer provides the distraction of the internet. How can a writer get anything done with the internet staring you in the face? Let me know how it goes if you decide to interview your characters. I’ve never talked to anyone who has ever done it before. I’d be interested to know what kind of results you get. Thanks for commenting!

  8. […] Storytime withย Buffy also explains The Thrill ofย Editing One’s Work […]

  9. I only print out portions when I’m going somewhere with no computer access and am in ‘editing’ phase — though one of my beta readers printed out the whole dang manuscript herself so she could pore over it like that. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ Myself, I’m quite at home on the computer, and a blinking cursor on a blank white page doesn’t frighten me. The page doesn’t stay blank for long.

    I sort of interviewed some characters when I was writing my kingdom-dialogues a while ago, but I haven’t ever interviewed one straight-out. Maybe another time. But I do take pains to keep track of who has what object; it can be damn important. And a line or two can help eliminate the problem of pulling a rope out of thin air — or at least make it actual magic, not the cartoonist penciling it into his hand at need.

    • I imagine that you are quite organised about these things! You seem to be highly detail oriented. I’ve got a horrible memory, so I need to keep better track of what my people have otherwise it might be a bit embarrassing.

      I printed out someone’s manuscript when she asked me to read it. I like to make notes and it’s easier to do it on the actual paper. Sometimes I feel like a teacher marking someone’s paper. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Oooh. Aaah.

    Great. Now we’ve got that out of the way, I love the new look. I think I’m going to switch my blog to this theme now ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Happy editing.

    • Thank you for oohing and ahhing.

      Eeep! I don’t want to change themes again! Although, yours would look different than mine once you added your hammers. ๐Ÿ˜€

      Hope NaNo is going well!

  11. Any chance you’ll be posting excerpts on your blog once it’s edited? ๐Ÿ˜€

  12. […] there! As you may know from a previous post, I’m editing my first manuscript. It’s slow going as I’ve decided to interview […]

  13. I think you and I are doing the same thing. I went back to a story I finished about 3 years ago (wow, was it bad when I reread it) and am editing/rewriting. I’m using Hiveword to do a better job of planning my characters/plot/etc. this time. Good luck!

  14. I will like to change my own theme, but i guess I am still considering those people that hates complicated themes. I love how this theme feels. i am so sure you made the right choice. Good luck with the book as I will be waiting to read it too.

    • Thanks! I really like this theme now. I think it’s the best one I’ve had yet. It’s very simple and easy to read. I think it’s good to change things up occasionally. It’s like getting a breath of fresh air.

      Thanks for reading and I’ll keep you updated as to how my novel progresses.

  15. […] Storytime withย Buffy also explains The Thrill ofย Editing One’s Work […]

  16. One of my characters disappeared from the group for almost three chapters, until I remembered the poor guy. Had to try and crow bar him in before I gave up and just wiped him from existence . God knows where he is now?

    • That’s hilarious! I find that I sometimes forget important details about my characters, but I have yet to completely forget about any of them. I have the opposite problem. Sometimes I have them hanging around not doing anything like lemons. And they’re always looking at stuff…

      • Ha, yeh while other characters are ‘doing’ the spare one looks on embarrassed, or walks away bored.

      • Exactly! I like putting my text into wordle to see how often I use words like looking, looked, saw, and other variations of passive activity. It’s really helpful.

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