I have gone through all the questions on self-editing that some of you have posted here in the last few days and have picked out the actual questions and sent them off to Renni Browne. So when I hear back from her, I’ll start posting her answers here.
Some of you have been speculating on the secret project I’m working on. Not my choice to keep it secret. It’s somebody else’s secret. I mention it because it’s been consuming enormous amounts of my time, and I felt I owed you all some explanation of why I have had little blogging energy the last few days. Things are just about finished on this thing. I wrapped up the hard part today. Tomorrow, I have to finish the harder part, and then that’ll be the end of things. In a couple of months, all will be revealed. Again, that’s not my choice–it’s been imposed on me.
Let me give you my initial thoughts on self-editing:
I’m a lazy cuss and I hate working harder than I have to. So I try my best not to work on something that will be thrown away. Some examples:
If I know the novel is unpublishable, I refuse to work on it anymore. I’d rather work on an idea that I think is publishable. It saps my energy to be pouring time down a rathole.
If I know that the story structure is wrong, (but the novel is a good concept), then I fix that first. I refuse to revise a chapter which is likely to get thrown out. And if the story structure is wrong, a lot of chapters are going to get thrown out.
Once I have fixed the story structure, then I ask which chapters are in and which are out. I write new chapters to replace the deleted ones, because I want the whole story in place. Then I read the whole thing and take notes.
Once I know that I have all the chapters that I’m going to need, I work through them all in order, revising it. I make sure the scene structure is right and that I know the conflicting agendas of the main characters in the scene.
Once I think a scene is structured right, then I edit the thing line by line. I’m not going to discuss what that entails today.
Like I said, I’m lazy and I don’t want to edit a scene that might get chucked. Life is too short for that. Get the big picture right first, then the middle picture, then the little picture. And if that sounds like the Snowflake method, that’s because it is. I use the Snowflake to edit my work and it’s every bit as useful there as when I designed the beast in the first place.
Tuesday is E-zine Day, so I’ll be busy on that all day and will not blog tomorrow night. Wednesday, I’ll blog again.
See ya then!
Pam Halter says
okay ~ the first question that popped in my mind is how do you know if an idea is publishable? Do you talk about it with someone in the industry or do you have a gut feeling?
Pam, that is my question too. With my current WIP I’ve had mixed comments about whether it is publishable/marketable. Those that have read portions say yes and those that just look at the query say no. I guess the query is the problem. Nonetheless I’m not so naive to think it is a best seller or that it meets the needs/wants of the general market, but my gut is that it is a story some will read. If I go by what my critique group says I would persevere – If I go by the word of on honorable literary agent I’d drop it like a hot potato and move on. Yet in my heart, I think it is worth the effort.
Mary Hake says
Lynn, you have to follow your heart until it tells you different. Even if it’s never published you’re learning. I figure if my YA novel doesn’t get picked up I will put it online because I believe God wants to use it. But I’m going the traditional route (seeking a publisher and agent) because I think that’s what I should do at this time. We have to do our very best and commit it to Him.
Stein recommends avoiding going through from beginning to end much because the writer gets weary of it. Have you found that to be a problem? If I take a little break in between, I can come back fresh and get excited about my book again–no matter how many times I’ve read it so far. I know when my own writing engages me and evokes tears, etc., it has something because it can still offer that P.E.E. to someone who knows it well.
D.E. Hale says
You know, I think you hit the nail on the head Randy. I think I know why I’ve been avoiding the editing part, because I know that the structure is what really needs work. I wrote the last two novels of my trilogy before I even heard of “The snowflake” and now I’m worried that I’m going to have to write them over completely. So, instead I’ve just been avoiding it.
I mean, I’ve spent several years completing the stupid things, and now my husband is going to think I’ve gone nuts if I tell him that I need to rewrite them again.
Well, I guess if I don’t just do it, it’ll never get done. It’s just hard to get motivated.
Ahh! That method you outlined has too much order for me. I really wish I could work in an orderly manner, a straightforward manner, but alas…
I seem to work in a strangely circular fashion, and though I’ve tried everything out there but the kitchen sink, this is the only way that works: I write a few chapters, circle back when I can’t see where I’m going, maybe write a few chapters towards the end as inspired through all this, circle back again and gain rebound to jump ahead and write forward. I rarely edit through all this–I simply rewrite and somehow that makes it all come alive to me. Somewhere in there the action gets right and the plot evens out. I don’t exactly know how. Only that for me nothing else works!!!
And heaven help me, I can’t set down my manuscript for any long period of time or it will take me weeks to start feeling the characters again.
It amazes me how there are three million ways to write, and not one of them the same for two people!
Looking forward to Renni’s answers on self-editing!
Daan Van der Merwe says
I have to say that I find all the above postings extremely helpful and thought provoking. To Pam, Lynn, Mary and Holly, thank you very much.
D.E. Hale says
Hmmm….I wonder why my comments suddenly need moderation. I think my computer is freaking out or something.
Greg Zook says
I wasn’t happy with my project. After reading it with a more objective eye, I realize it just wasn’t very good or interesting. I think the story is a good one. I can write better from the first person perspective. I want to start over from the central character’s voice. However, I will lose two of the characters in the process.
My question is, should I scale back my storyline to make the writing more engaging or should I force myself to learn to write from the omniscient third person? This is a hard choice for me.