As I've approached the end, I've been jotting down notes to myself about things I need to fix, change, amplify, etc. during my first editing pass. Some of these are plot points that have evolved as the story unfolded. Some are characters that have changed as I've gotten to know them better. You know the kind of stuff I mean.
I've always considered myself to have a very orderly mind. This is the first time I've felt the need to write down a self-editing checklist, but 2017 was an ugly year for me, and I don't trust my memory. Looking over my list, I realize I'm much more scatter-brained than I give myself credit for. Just for laughs, I thought I'd share this part of my "process" with you. We might as well laugh together.
Here it is, in no particular order:
- Cut info dump in Chap. 1 and weave it into the rest of the chapter.
- Have Casey (heroine) tell Alec (hero) about Peter (former fiance) early on.
- Have Carolyn Chiang (mother of Alec's niece's best friend) tell Casey about Alec's financial success with book and TV appearances.
- Have Casey put on slippers or shoes when she goes downstairs to confront the villain.
- Reminder: she's a psychologist and tends to overthink things. Use it!
- Include ALL senses.
- Beef up details re: clothes and settings. It's cold out there. These people are not all naked all the time!
- Add emotion everywhere!
- Replace cliched body language descriptions with something more creative.
- Reconsider Fermin's comments and behaviors. (This is necessary because I didn't decide that he was going to be the ultimate villain until I was at least 2/3 of the way through the book.)
- Ditto for Maria. (See note above. I knew she was a part of the villain's plan, but not whether she was an actual co-conspirator, until quite late.)
- Increase the humor! (As I said, 2017 was not a funny year for me, so this book is lacking some of my trademark humor.)
- Copy and save good quotes to use later. (I hate going back through a manuscript, hunting for quotes to use in ads, etc.)
Does this garbled mess look familiar to anyone? It's okay to say no. I wouldn't claim it, either, if I didn't have to.
Oh, yeah. Very familiar. Like you, I need notes because my memory is like a sieve. Some days I even forget words. It's on the tip of my--well, not tongue, but . . . I put in a placeholder like xxx, highlighted, hoping when I read through the right word will pop up. Better use of senses. I forget other than sight and hearing. I need to remember smell and taste. I'm looking forward to reading this one, Alison. I thoroughly enjoyed the first two in this series (all standalone books). Love the cover, btw.
Yes, definitely, me too with the somewhat garbled brain. Your list makes perfect sense to me. A friend of ours claims that as we age/mature our brains become so stocked and loaded with information, it’s more, um, labor intensive to sift through all the Golden knowledge to find the thought or word we need. Works for me. Best of luck with your edits.
Some books are just like that. And 2017 made my writing process more painful too. I feel your pain.
I tend to go back and fix as I go. I'm slower to finish the first draft, but it doesn't need much work when I do. My latest (because my editor just pointed it out in a rather strident manner) is gaze/glanced. I overuse both and don't even notice. I just edited the first 8 chapters of my WIP to get rid of a bunch. Also, small action tags. He finds them as annoying as dialogue tags. I've been deleting those, too. Sigh. Always something. You fix one problem and create another. Your checklist sounds pretty straightforward. I'm looking forward to reading/editing this one!
"add emotion' certainly looks familiar and I, too, have a garbled brain--so I can't think of anything else to add here, though I'm big on word usage and eliminating repeated words. But then I'm sure you are, too.
Diane, don't you hate it when the right word won't come? I tend to get held up on fresh, creative metaphors and similes. They're a great way to inject humor, but sometimes all I can come up with is a highlighted blank space.
Margo, from now on I'll just think of my brain as overstocked. Thanks! LOL
Brenda, this book has been an agonizing slog, but not because of the story or characters. They're among my all-time favorites. External forces have slowed the flow of my creative juices to the pace of cold molasses. It's good to have my mojo at least partly back.
Jannine, I followed your process for every book until this one, and I can't wait to get back to it. This time I was so frozen I tried a mini version of NaNo to get unstuck. Once I started, I was afraid if I backtracked even a little I would freeze up again and never finish--not a fun way to work. I have the same problem with gaze/glance. Every time I use them, it's painfully repetitious, even to me. PLEASE tell me what you're using as replacements! As for your action beats, I've always admired them. I struggle to work any action into the dialogue. If I had my way, the whole thing would be a screenplay.
Andi, as I chug along with my action and dialogue, I have to keep asking myself, "But how does s/he FEEL about that?" I'm like a lazy director who wants to leave that part up to the actors.
I put "glance" into search and found about 30 in the first 8 chapters. So I went to each one and made an executive decision about whether it could stay or go. Some were coupled with other actions. Example: He glanced over at her and smiled. I ditched the glanced and reduced it to: He smiled. Of course you have to be careful about too many short actions like that, too. Most of my glancing was in conjunction with dialogue, so sometimes I could delete it completely and still follow the flow. I used to tag every third line with some sort of action, but (unless multiple people are in the conversation) often you can get away with less and still easily follow who is saying what. It's such a balancing act! I cut about half and even more when I attacked "gaze." I did change some "glanced" to "looked" (only a few). I never used that word because I remember Ally saying she hated it when she edited my TWRP books. But in the interest of changing it up, I put a few in where it seemed natural. Probably not a lot of help, but being aware of what you're doing is half the battle.
Your list was just what I needed. Where's my tissues? I feel a cry of desperation coming on. I edit as I go along--or so I tell myself. Bwhahaha. Then when I'm finished I give it a good going over and wonder what idiot snuck into my manuscript and did all the dumb stuff I'm finding. Someone has access to my laptop, I'm telling you.
Some books are just easier to write. Some are like pulling a too small girdle over a wet behind. Every tug is a struggle. I'm betting you'll have it in tip top shape when you're done.
Jannine, I'll do my best, but be prepared to slash and burn when it gets to you!
Vonnie, I always used to edit as I went along, and it worked great for me. I was having so much trouble with this one, I tried the write-straight-through method for the first time. It's probably the only reason the book is nearly finished, but it means I've got a major mountain to climb now. Small girdle over wet behind, indeed.
Sounds totally familiar. I go through a similar process when I'm nearing the end of every book.
I especially got a kick out of 'These people are not naked all the time!'
I have to amuse myself from time to time, Phyllis.
Always here; always doing this... I have notes written all over the house that I stack up, eventually next to my computer. I also make notes at the end of each scene...or before each scene, to help me keep track of days and time of day. Lately, I'm finding that the more I read the draft the more difficult it is to calculate my pace and 'reveal' details. Sometimes it feels like all the events are happing at the same time! Yikes!
I love this list, Alison! I tend to correct as I go like several others. I'm afraid my brain is too "golden" to keep track otherwise. I also leave myself notes in the manuscript, and hope I remember to take them out! My favorite is your No. 3: "Have Carolyn Chiang (mother of Alec's niece's best friend) tell Casey about Alec's financial success with book and TV appearances." That sounds like something I'd write! :-) I really enjoyed the first two books in the series and am looking forward to seeing this book in its finished form!
Rolynn, I don't know if I'd do better or worse with stacks of notes. I'm not sure I'd be able to figure out what I meant when I wrote them. LOL
Thanks, Leah. I sure hope the finished form is smoother than the current form!
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