One week to deadline!

If you’re new to this blog, you’ve come at a good time! I’m feeling quite upbeat at the moment because I’m editing, and I LOVE editing! I’ve been blogging for just over a year about the experience of writing my third novel, and for the past seven months, I’ve been redrafting the not-very-good-at-all first draft I submitted in January. I have promised to deliver this draft by the end of August, and I’m on target. In fact, I hope to deliver it before the end of this week.

I’ve been setting goals each week, and this is what I said in last week’s post:

Edit my final two chapters, finish drafting the epilogue, and add in two little incidents I’ve come up with for earlier in the book.

Well, yet again, it’s Mission Accomplished! I’ve also sorted out some timescale problems (I had a pregnancy lasting eleven months!!) and little plot issues, such as two characters apparently meeting for the first time when in fact, they met earlier in the book.

By the way, if you’re a new reader, I should point out that I’m not always this good. In earlier posts, I frequently failed to meet my modest targets, and I spent a lot of time moaning about how hard it all is (and it is, it really is), but this stage, the editing stage, is the fun part, the payoff for all the agony that is a first draft.

One of the things I really enjoy doing is adding in all those little nuggets that enrich a narrative. It may be a little snatch of description, an incident that reflects or foreshadows something else in the novel, or a character detail I hadn’t thought of before. Long after my first novel was published, I kept finding little notes I’d made but hadn’t included – so annoying!

Since then, I make sure every note goes on a postcard or a scrap of paper and is put in a box or file, ready for the editing period. I then read each note and try to work it into the novel, or discard it if it’s no longer relevant. This time, I found three separate notes with the same thing written on them – a pretty clear indication that it was worth including! I still use notebooks, too, but I make sure I cross through each item when I’ve dealt with it so I don’t have pages and pages of notes to read through.

I’m virtually there now, I think. I still have a couple of things to address – there’s another time problem I’ve just spotted, and also something quite important that needs to be mentioned a second time. I’m also checking for my ‘tic’ words – I’m a shocker for ‘slightly’ and ‘almost’, and words like ‘very’ and ‘just’ which are often completely redundant. Another thing I have to watch out for is just how many times characters nod, shake their heads, or smile. These are all perfectly legitimate actions, and can be a good way to break up a bit of dialogue, but I had one page where everyone was nodding so much that I don’t think ‘ridiculous’ would have been overstating it!

So, next week’s goal is easy-peasy: finish the bugger! When I say ‘finish’, you know what I mean – while I know this draft is better than the one I submitted in January, that doesn’t mean there won’t be a lot more work to do once I have feedback from my editor and agent, but it’ll be a great stage to reach. I’m hoping to get this sent off before the weekend, and then I intend to drink some champagne before writing next week’s blog post at a more leisurely pace. (Not immediately before, obviously – I usually try to remain reasonably sober while writing this blog.)

See you next week!

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