Editing Update: Plugging Away

I am still plugging away at the latest book I’m writing. I’ve been doing an edit of my manuscript draft, and sending a few chapters at a time to my editor Lawrence (actually, we’ll be listed as coauthors on the cover). And it’s finally starting to come a bit more naturally; I used to speed through the novel-writing and editing process, but I guess I’m out of practice. It’s been years since I’ve actually finished a novel, though I’ve started quite a few.

I’d sent Lawrence the first six chapters of this one a few weeks ago, and expected to have the next batch to him shortly afterward. But the editing took longer than planned, partly because my son came home from college on Spring Break for a week, and then my mother and sister came to visit. And partly because I am so easily distracted by much more mundane occurrences or by important but distant events.

In any case, it turns out I could have gotten a second batch of chapters to him sooner, but once the excess people left my house and I slipped into a writing groove, I plowed through more of the manuscript than I’d realized. This past weekend, I sent him chapters seven through fourteen. That may not sound like a lot more than the first batch. But these chapters, on average, were considerably longer. My first six chapters were nearly 9,000 words. The next eight chapters were close to 18,000.

The whole manuscript still needs work. Once I get through this pass-through of the entire manuscript, I’ll fill in any plot gaps with new scenes. Then I’ll go back again and do another edit, incorporating Lawrence’s suggestions. At that point, I’ll be looking more at the overall structure of the book. I know I’m writing long. There’s a section I’ve decided I can remove if necessary to get the manuscript to a reasonable length, though I might be able to solve the length issue just by tightening up wordiness and removing redundant bits. I’ve noticed some pacing issues that I’ll have to address, as well. And I may need to add texture: more sights and sounds, background actions, and characters to help flesh out my science-fiction world.

In other words, I’m not out of the fictional woods yet. But I was so pleased to realize I was ready to send Lawrence more chapters. He’s been way more patient with me than I deserve.

A lot of writers don’t, but generally, I like editing. And unlike many writers, I have no problem editing my own work. I like manipulating the raw info dump that is the first draft, rearranging the pieces, cutting bits, and clarifying the character’s voices. Maybe I’m comfortable with the process because I spent the first part of my career as a full-time editor. Editing is not an add-on; it’s very much a part of writing and can be just as creative as the initial process of getting the story down on the page.

I know I can get this finished if I can just focus and eliminate distractions. April will help. In a few days, Camp NaNoWriMo begins, and my goal is to get this manuscript ready for beta readers.

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