Making the cut


I’ve been working the edits for Anneth … again …. and I swear this is the last time I’m going through the process. If I can’t fix it this time, then I think it needs to be abandoned for good and all. (And yes, I have said that before … trouble is, I love this story far too much to really let it go).

This time, I’m working through it using Holly Lisle’s ‘How to Revise Your Novel‘ course, and it’s (so far) been the most productive edit to date.

I have said that, each time … because each time I’ve gone back to this novel and revised it (about 7 in all) it’s got better, and stronger, than it was in the first draft – but still not the story I actually wanted to tell.

I think this time is different – not only because I’ve written a lot more since the original draft, but also because of the systematic approach of the course, tackling different elements of plot, conflict, character and world in separate iterations.

It has meant going through the manuscript in mind-numbing detail over and over again, highlighting the flaws and strengths of each scene in the overall story – and whilst it has been frustratingly slow progress, it has at least removed almost every element of personal attachment to the story itself an removed me to an (almost) objective position where I’m seeing things in terms of what does and does not work in the story, rather than focussing on the parts that I loved writing – regardless of whether or not they fit in the overall story – and can’t bear to change or remove altogether.

Working through the conflicts in the story, I realised that a lot needed to change – some significant restructuring, a whole subplot put to the sword, and wholesale shifts in perception and tension that need to be built back in, to make for a much tighter *story* that sticks to the original idea I had rather than meandering around a lot before coming to the final point in far too much of an inconclusive rush. What I’m left with is a monster pile of notes of scene changes, some of which change the whole emphasis of the story and make me truly excited about it again – bringing me giant leaps closer to what I originally envisaged and full of hope that this time I might actually be able to deliver on paper what my imagination was spinning out to me.

As a result, I’m itching to get to the rewrites … but have had to put myself on hold and make myself stick with the process – there may yet be more I can get out of this to incorporate into the revisions. But it’s a tricky process, when I know that some scenes are going to change completely, to commit to going through this minute assessment of what does and does not work on each of the lesson levels.

As a result, I’ve adapted some of the lessons, working on what I *know* will change as well as what already exists, so that I’ve got a good picture of where I’m going with it when I am finally allowed to start writing again.

In the meantime, concentrating purely on revising/editing is irritating my muse. She’s getting annoyed that I’m not writing, and is waking me up almost nightly with super-vivid story dreams, and almost constantly pitching me ideas. I’m getting most of this good stuff down in a notebook, just capturing the essence of the story in a single sentence, sometimes with additional notes, mostly not, just to get these tormenting ideas to leave me alone. There’s at least 2 or 3 I’ve got a definite itch to write *NOW* … but I’m holding out against them and trying to maintain my discipline of finishing one project before I start another, but it’s really not easy.

Writing a big, sprawling, messy first draft is *way* more fun than getting into the mechanics of fine-tuning that draft down into the refined purity of a final version.

But I’ll get there. Someday.


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