Apparently, I make Shannon at Book Dreaming happy! (Which is great, because she makes me happy, too! She leaves comments and has a fun blog, and that little caterpillar is oh-so-cute!) In order to accept the award, I need to list 10 things that make me happy, then 10 blogs that make me happy.
So...10 things that make me happy:
- My husband (most of the time)
- My friends
- My dogs
- When people leave comments on my blog
- Napping in the middle of the day
- The Babbling Flow of a Fledgling Scribbler
- The First Novels Club
- Carol's Prints
- The Writer's Hollow
- Reading is Sexy
- Kimberly Franklin
- And Anything Bookish
- The Character Therapist
- The One-Minute Writer
- Bookie Woogie (how could this one NOT make me happy)
After finishing the first draft of my manuscript, I took about a week off just to get away from the manuscript. During that time, I thought about it, and even created character boards. Since then, I've been diligently (for the most part) working on round 1 of my edits. So what does round 1 involve? *Cue boxing-match girl with sign* (I Googled a picture, but everything I found was way too inappropriate for this blog.)
During round 1, I re-read the entire manuscript from the beginning. I edit here and there, and anything I know I want to change (like major revelations that occurred to me during my week off, or plot points that I knew just weren't right while I was writing but I wanted to get through them to the next part) gets changed. I pay attention to grammar, but not like it's the end of the world - I have a hard time ignoring grammar issues (thank you, career in magazine editing), but I'm also not going to spend my time agonizing over how to eliminate that passive voice or kick that adverb to the curb when the whole passage might ultimately get canned, anyway. Mostly this process is just about figuring out where my strengths and weaknesses are, and re-connecting with my manuscript all at once (instead of over the months it took to write the first draft.)
For round 2, I focus on the plot. Is everything consistent? Where are the holes? Are there enough turns and suspenseful things going on? Do I keep the reader engaged? Am I ending every chapter on a note that makes people think, "OMG I HAVE TO KEEP READING!!! OK FINE, ONE MORE CHAPTER!" until before they know it they're done with the book? Are there subplots that are interesting and important but don't take away from the main plot? I choose to look at plot first, then character, because I don't want to change the character's reaction to a plot point that might not even exist later.
During round 3, I go through and look at character. Is every character meaningful? (I can already think of one character that is probably going to be cut as unimportant.) Do all the characters react appropriately to situations? Do they all have internal and external conflicts? Do the good guys have some bad qualities, and the bad guys have at least one redeeming quality? Do their motivations make sense? Do they have trademark phrases/actions, and do they keep up with them throughout the course of the novel? Do I care about the main character (more importantly, will readers care?)
Finally, I take a last careful look at the whole thing and do line edits. I cut all the words I don't want to use - eliminate extraneous "that"s, get rid of adverbs, put a check on my flowery writing, do my darnedest to cut out the passive voice (which is sometimes SO hard because I'm writing in the past tense, but sometimes passive is correct...just not usually).
After all that, I'll send it to a few crit partners and beta readers, apply their input, then hopefully send it to some more partners and gamma readers, then do a final edit before querying!
And that's my process. Sound impossibly long? It is. And it's exhausting to write it out and think about it. But it's working for me so far, and I love feeling close to my novel and really getting my hands dirty. If you want to try editing your novel in one pass, read this. It's an interesting idea, and I might try it sometime, but for now I like my way-too-complicated method...because I'm a complicated girl.
Does this sound like how you edit? Or do you have a simpler method?