News From The Editing Front; or, What I’ve Been Up To Lately

For those of you who have been wondering what sort of progress I’ve been making on my latest (unfinished) NaNoWriMo novel, I have a confession to make:

I haven’t made any actual progress at all in the last two weeks.

By “actual progress,” I mean words written.  However, if “virtual progress” counts, then I’ve gotten quite a bit done.  I’ve spent a fair amount of time working out some troublesome plot points for the rest of the story.  I knew that some of my characters were going to have to make some difficult decisions before the story was over.  What I didn’t realize was that almost all of them are going to have to face difficult decisions, and how those decisions were going to interleave with each other.  On top of all of that, I’ve needed to work in certain bits of foreshadowing, both for the end of this book and for the end of the series (next book).  So there’s an awful lot going on there, and I think I need to do some more pre-processing before I’m ready to write that bit.

In the meantime, I’ve decided to make a push toward getting the latest round of edits done on the first book, in hopes of beginning to (ulp!) send out query letters after the beginning of the year.

One of my editing goals in this pass was to try to reduce the size of the manuscript a little further.  It’s currently sitting at about 148K words.  I’d like for it to be more like 125K words.  Unfortunately, while I’ve trimmed out quite a bit–including some scenes that were near and dear to my heart–I’ve also been adding a small subplot, which seems to be doing its best to completely negate all of the cuts I’ve made.  But I think it’s a necessary subplot, especially based on feedback from my critique group.  I may need some volunteer readers to give it a quick once-over and tell me which bits they don’t think are necessary.  (If anyone reading this is interested, drop me a comment and let me know.)

I think this editing pass is going pretty well, though.  I’m getting rid of a lot of wordiness and passive sentences, which is good.  But I think I’ve also fixed a few scenes where the characters had a tendency to over-talk things.  I’ve tried to work in more subtext, and not resolve every last little hanging thread in a scene (thereby removing all of the tension from the scene).  I’m learning that these are some of my Bad Writer Habits, so I’m trying hard to teach myself not to do that.  Or at least, not too often.

I think it helps that I know my characters so much better now than when I was first writing the story.  There have been a number of places where I’ve caught myself thinking, “Oh, that character would never say that,” or “That doesn’t sound like this character; it sounds like a different character.”

I’m at about the halfway point in the book right now, with a goal of finishing my edits before Christmas.  I don’t know how realistic that is, given everything that has to be done this time of year, but we’ll see how it goes.  I may decide to take one of my days off between Christmas and New Years and go off to the library and spend the day editing.

What are other folks working on?  Or is everyone too busy with the holidays to be working on anything?

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About sheilamcclune

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