At the moment my desk looks something like this. Having let the first draft of my second novel sit and mature over a long and glorious summer, it is time to get down to the serious business of editing.
I’m trying to be quite methodical about it so far. My first step was to read the manuscript in its printed form – an altogether different experience from reading it on the screen – annotating it with things that struck me: questions, problems, things I might need to change.
I’ve quite enjoyed getting back into the story, but to be honest I’m finding it pretty tricky to keep an objective eye on it. Fortunately I’m not doing this alone: I’ve had several people read the first draft and give me feedback, including my agent who handily vocalised some of the things that were niggling me about the characters in particular.
That’s where the post-it notes come in. There are a few amendments to specific scenes I’m working on, but mostly they’re threads that run through the whole book, things that need to be tweaked to achieve the effect I’m aiming for and keep the reader on side. So as I read through the draft again, a different coloured pen in hand this time, my eyes are flicking to those orange stars as my mind shifts and changes and adds the details that I think will make a difference.
I’m about a third of the way through this second critical reading now, and am quietly satisfied by the things that are starting to fall into place. I’m hoping that by the middle of next week I should be able to get back into Scrivener and start the actual rewrite – and that as I switch from paper to screen again more ideas will seep in to give my story the depth and authenticity it needs.
It’s an exciting process, and definitely a challenging one. I think the biggest challenge is not being able to completely immerse myself in it – having to keep a toddler entertained and trying to keep this blog going too. So the edit is happening in very distinct chunks, and invariably I have to tear myself away just as things are getting interesting.
But I’m working on it every day, and hopefully my brain will keep ticking over during the enforced breaks, searching out new inspiration and solving the problems that remain outside my grasp whilst I’m staring at the page. I’m not very good at being patient – once I set my mind to something I generally just like to get it done. But in this case I think the slower pace might just work to my advantage… We shall see.