The Draining Editing Process

I think my last few posts have been a little dark, so here’s something on the more positive side of things.

Having (more or less) finished the manuscript for A Gothic Symphony, it’s time to start the long, tedious and frustrating process of editing the damn thing. This is where I get bored; this is where I shudder at poor writing and glaring plot holes. This is where I try to fix all the shit that I didn’t have time to worry about when I was writing the first draft.

And this isn’t a quick process. It takes a huge amount of time, and it takes reading through the entire manuscript not once, or twice, but dozens of times, until every last word ceases to have any meaning.

The first thing I’m working on is the big picture stuff. Cutting unnecessary scenes is a first priority: the novel originally was a tad over 100,000 words, and I really wanted to get it down to around 80,000 for the final draft. So far I’ve cut it to around 93,000, which isn’t bad, though it could still do with some cropping here and there.

After that, it comes down to fixing plot holes. Some of these are difficult to find; a character might mention a gift from a parent in one chapter, only to discover in a later chapter that their parents were awful and would never have given them anything. Some are a little more obvious: birth and death dates lining up, etc.

The biggest difficulty I have here is that I’m impatient. I really shouldn’t be sending out copies of the book for people to read until I’ve at least done these things, but I kind of already did. Oh, well. But I know that I have to be the first filter to figure this stuff out; the goal of alpha and beta-readers is to refine, to get opinions on flow and structure, and to set me up for what might end up having to be extensive rewrites.

At that point, I have a choice: leave the manuscript the way it is, or pay for professional editing. Since I’m not (currently) trying to self-publish the book, I don’t know if there’s a great deal of value in having it edited; the goal of acquiring an agent is for them to send the book to an editor, who can do that job for free (or for a cut of the advance, if that ever happens). Having said that, I really do need to have some impartial readers give me their honest opinions, because of course friends and family can only go so far.

Either way, the process is ongoing and going well, even if it’s pretty damn draining at times. I’ll keep working on it, and hopefully I’ll soon have something I’m willing to share with the world!

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