Notes from Edit-head; or, More Musings on Revisions

I’ve spent a fair amount of time in “edit head” this week.

Which is not a new thing for me, or terribly unusual  What is unusual is that I seem to be bouncing around between projects.

I dabbled a bit on editing my once-and-future Regency romance earlier in the week.  It’s just such a dauntingly huge task, though, and I’m not sure if it ever can be finished, so it’s hard for me to stay focused on it for any length of time.

So when my attention wandered from that, I started on the revisions to my suburban fantasy/fairy story, as suggested from my recent workshop experience in Reno (that was last week’s entry, in case anyone missed it).  I got the first of the two suggested major changes made, and I think it really does improve the story.

But the second suggested change is a little trickier, as it involves changing the underlying structure of the story.  Essentially what I need to do is to delete one entire scene and replace it with something else.  That, in and of itself, is not difficult to do.  The problem is that the scene occurs fairly early on in the story, and therefore a lot of what follows depends on or refers to it.  Which means that most of the rest of the story has to be revised as well.  Not a quick or easy task.  I think I need to go read my notes again and make sure I’m moving in the right direction before I tackle that one.  It may just need a little more time to “cook” before I can see the solution.

Which brought me back around to editing Book 1 of the Winterbourne series again.  Almost the whole novel has been through my critique group now, and I think I have a better handle on some of the places where the narrative could be trimmed down a bit.  The characters seem a little sharper in my mind, and the underlying themes a bit clearer.

The main problem I’m having with this one is that there are several things I want to accomplish on this edit pass.  My first priority, as always, is to try to locate scenes that can be trimmed down or deleted.  While the file is now (finally) down under 150K words, I’d be happier still if I could get it down to 125K or 130K.  That may not be realistic; but with every trim, I can feel the story getting just a little tighter, a little more in focus.  Little by little, I’m trimming away the excess to leave just what is essential for the story.

But while I’m doing that, I’m also trying to incorporate feedback, both from my critique group and my devoted and loyal corps of brave alpha readers.  Everyone who has read the story has had at least one useful suggestion (though “print it up and use it as a doorstop” might not have been the most useful of the suggestions), and trying to keep all of those in mind as I go through and make revisions is a challenge.

And then, too, I need to be on the lookout for things that are on my list of “bad writer habits”: weak words, vague phrasing, passive voice, and the dreaded POV shift.  And while I’m at it, I need to look for little touches I can add to make the story more vivid, such as smells, sounds, and costume and setting details.

In the end, that may be more than my brain can juggle at one pass.  And of course, there’s an argument to be made that I shouldn’t spend a lot of time snipping and primping and prettying up a scene until I’m certain it’s going to stay in the story.  So I may divide this up into two separate edit runs.  We’ll see.

But when I finish this round of editing, I’m going to be looking for more test readers.  I know I’ve got a couple of folks who are interested, but if you might like to read the revised version and provide some basic feedback (whether you’ve read an earlier version or not), please leave me a comment and let me know.

How do other people juggle multiple priorities while editing?  Do you try to do all of your editing at once, or do you break it up and try to focus on fixing one aspect of your manuscript at a time?

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About sheilamcclune

Aspiring author, sharing the tidbits I've learned along the way.
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