Editing: First Pass

Posted: March 18, 2013 in Writing
Tags: , ,

Amity v1.6 is a thing. At least on paper. I just finished my first complete read through of the novel and need to input the results into the computer so I can print it up for the beta readers. By the way, holy crap printing is expensive.

So even though I had to transcribe the entire thing from my hand written notebooks to the computer, chunks of it were already transcribed prior to my completion of the novel. There was a stretch a while back where I used the act of typing it into a word file as a kick to the pants to get going with new words. Something to get me back into the swing of things, I guess. So this pass really was the first time I had read it cover to cover. Three people have read the first two chapters before, my wife and two buddies from work who kept bugging me to read part of what I was working.

I’m digesting my thoughts on it as I type this blog post. I literally did just finish about ten minutes before firing up wordpress. I think my initial thought is “Holy crap I’m a bad typist.” EverQuest may have taught me to type fast, but not particularly well. I’m really glad I did a pass before giving it out to the beta readers just to catch all the fuck ups that spellcheck didn’t catch. I spell a lot of things wrong that are really other words it seems.

Names are something I screwed up with minor characters a lot too. I had a lot of bracket notes saying [Doctor’s name] in them. The protag’s mother had three different middle names in the course of the book. A few names didn’t even get fixed in the pass, I decided to wait to use the search function in word before fixing them. I think a lot of that happened because I didn’t always expect minor characters to show up more than once. Even though I often made notes on the opposite page of the notebook as I was going (I only write on one side of the page to leave space for said notes), sometimes I’d be in a new notebook by the time the character showed up again. In the next book, I think I’m going to make it a point to keep a character list on the inside cover of my notebooks and transfer it from one to the next as I go. It’ll save myself a lot of trouble.

Plot points. This is something I’m a bit worried about, mostly because I didn’t seem to worry in my first pass. Aren’t I supposed to be worrying? I only found two points that I had to juggle about. I never felt the need to slash scenes out or deconstruct things and rearrange them about. I am going to hope that’s because the skeleton of my novel was written long before the actual novel itself. I don’t detail every single nuance ahead of time. I like to leave space for my characters and narrative to surprise me, but I need a road map of where I’m going. Not having that road map caused the first three attempts at a novel to founder. The plot map changed significantly six or eight times as I went where I had to stop and re-write all the plot points on out to the end. I’m hoping that got most of it out of my system. I also think that the overall structure is something that more sets of eyes are going to help with majorly. The plot as it stands was set in stone six-ish months ago so it is probably engrained into my noggin to much for me to see what it needs.

I do know that I want to add more in a few spots, but I want those other opinions before I start adding them in wantonly just to have to cut them out. The novel stands at a trim 72k. That’s a bit shorter than average. Before I was typing it, I was estimating that it’d come in at an average 80k upwards to 85k. I guess I wrote the last few chapters large. The front end of act three is where I think I can meat up the story the best. I have bracket notes suggesting just that.

Originally, as I was going, I was worried that the two sisters would sound too much alike. I use three POVs in the novel and it was touchy towards the beginning when I wasn’t fully committed to just those three. I want to make sure each character had a flavor to the text. I think I got better at that as I went so some of the first act might need to be rearranged.

And speaking of POV… halfway through typing the novel into the computer I had a horrible realization… The book might be better if I take the primary protag and rewrite her chapters as first person instead of the limited third I use. Just her chapters though, leave the other two as is. It’s a scary thinking of rewriting a third of the damn book already. After the beta reads are in, I may just do a couple test chapters and see how it goes.

My only other big concern is the tech level in my book. I’ve been contemplating a whole blog post on that subject in SF in general. It threw me for a loop when I read Redshirts and everyone has a smart phone. I had to stop and realize… yeah all that stuff I grew up watching in Star Trek TNG, that’s just daily life now. And that’s my default vision of science fiction more often than not because it was the fancy stuff when I was a kid. I had to consciously change every reference to a ‘data pad’ to a ‘tablet’ in my book because data pads don’t make sense anymore.

Anyways. The next step is beta readers which is pretty fucking scary if I do say so. But they’re going to be instructed to red pen the hell out of it. The worst I can do is say “Nope, gonna leave it as is” but that’s the sort of thing that will stop sounding great until I get a manuscript full of red ink back.

  1. mari says:

    thoughts about future tech… be sure to ask me as what with world travel I had forgotten I had wisdom for you

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