I reached an important milestone in the edit today. I made it to the end of the novel. Again.
My manuscript now stands at 91,150 words, as opposed to 92,300, though rather more than 1,150 have been cut. I reckon at least 5,000 have been exchanged: unnecessary exposition for punchy dialogue, descriptions of actions for descriptions of emotions. I kind of wish I knew exactly how many, but I don’t suppose it really matters. It is interesting, though, how I find myself wanting to hang on to little things like word counts as a way of measuring progress.
The real progress has been in how much happier I am with the general mood of the novel. The first draft felt too cheesy, the second a strange combination of the banal and the melodramatic. I think I’m much closer to getting the vibe I’m after now – closer to knowing what that actually is. I think it’s darker, emotionally. And yet more hopeful too. Which makes the climax even harder to stomach.
It’s not 100% there yet. I had a bit of a breakthrough about halfway through this process, one where I gave myself permission to let go a bit with my description – to bring a bit more of myself into the world I was creating. That was important, because I’d abandoned some of the elements of the book that made it about me for the sake of making the characters more engaging. What I think I realised is that that uniqueness, that idiosyncratic way of seeing things, belongs more in the fabric of the prose itself than in the events in the story. I’d let go of that in a desire to make the story more accessible, but I think I’d got it all topsy turvy.
I have no idea if that makes sense, but it’s where I’m at.
Because that breakthrough happened relatively late, I want to go back to the beginning now – to look at the manuscript yet again through the new lens I have acquired. I jumped around a bit, adding things in and taking things out so I didn’t forget them, but I need to make sure I haven’t lost continuity in the process. And there are sections early on that might need more work too, just to make sure that I am saying all I want to say in the best possible way I can.
This is gong to be the hardest bit now I think. This final sweep through, attempting to keep every one of those 91,150 words in my mind as I make sure that each chapter, each scene, each exchange fits comfortably within them.
But I am nearly done.
With this edit anyway.
Wish me luck!