That was fast. Seven days of editing zipped by. In that time, seven chapters have been bloodied (with a red pen), tweaked, reorganized, and rewritten while working late-ish at night, during lunch breaks, and over some parsed-out time on the weekend. I shall treat myself to donuts. Or ice cream.
Or donuts in ice cream. Where might one find this glorious concoction?
At this pace, the entire manuscript should be finished in about 12 weeks. Gallons of red ink will be spilled in that time. Words, sentences, and even chapters will be cut, changed, or added. Dangling threads will (hopefully) be connected. All with the aim of improving the story.
This week, I’ve cut Chapter One and blended its content with Chapter Two to create a stronger opening (h/t to my wife for the suggestion!). Every chapter so far has required varying degrees of rework. Chapter Three’s original structure is still intact. It just needed some word massaging. Chapter Five…oh, Chapter Five. I kept one line—one!—the opening line. That’s it. Everything else was either rewritten or stricken from the planet. The meat of the chapter is the same. It just needed to have the fat trimmed and a little more time in the oven. But I believe (think, hope?) that it now reads with more fluidity.
Chapter Five. Just…yuck.
Once I finished the first draft, I dreaded the looming self-edit. Judging from books, blogs, and Twitter, self-editing a manuscript is akin to rubbing a keyboard across your eyeballs while you question your life choices. Like so many things, however, your personal experiences will probably oppose those online opinions.
Don’t tell Twitter, but I kinda like self-editing. It’s improving something that already exists. I dig that. Perhaps it’s the software engineer in me. We are given a problem, and it’s our job to create a solution. A payroll clerk needs to be able to complete a particular task in the system, but a bug in the code prevents it. The software engineer finds the source of the issue, devises a fix, and implements it. In the story, if a sentence is too long, you break it into two (or more) sentences. If a paragraph goes off on a tangent and distracts from the story, you remove it. Find a problem, create a solution. Repeat.
I say this now, one week into my first self-edit. Twelve weeks from now, I might Hulk-smash my keyboard against the wall, with my face streaked in red ink and frustration tears. I know the reality is I will likely hit a wall…or nine. Some of the middle chapters are…not awesome. There are probably plot holes that need to be managed. Life happens. I may not get to edit for multiple days, pushing back the completion date. Unforseen obstacles will arise. There is no sense in deceiving myself in the face of the inevitable. I will just need to pretend I’m the Kool-Aid Man and bust through each wall I face. Simple, right?
Let’s hope next week’s progress matches or exceeds that of this past week. To the Edit Cave!
Ah! Target has this!
I have to take a quick trip to the store.