|pinterest: the white sail's shaking|
At least one Scribbles reader was interested in knowing how I go about all of this, and in the hopes that some of these points will benefit other writers, I thought I would go ahead and outline my process. Of course every writer edits differently, and if there is one right way to do it, no one ever informed me; but this is a broad sketch of how I generally edit.
I like to start by making lists. I have a little notebook in which I scrawl some of the finer parts of writing: marketing ideas, blog post ideas, research snippets, inspiring songs, and edits. This is particularly helpful for a story like White Sail's, where I have so many edits to make that it becomes overwhelming; writing them down helps me stay organized and clear-sighted about what I'm doing. So I make a list that looks like this:
(with indented lines for each one of said chapters)
Edit Out Subplot
And so on, with boxes beside each so that when I finish I can check it off. I'm pretty general here, since I know what I'm referring to and it helps keep matters in plain terms. Too much detail makes me panic all over again.
After I make my list, I pull up the full Word document of my novel and take care of the major points that need to be taken out - for instance, that "edit out subplot" was a major point that took up two or three chapters, plus various references later on. I left the later references because they are tied in with their surroundings, but I went ahead and stripped out the chapters singly devoted to the subplot. This cuts down on some of the story's bulk, makes me feel productive, and saves the ink cartridge for the next part.
Because after I take care of those major issues, I print out my whole manuscript, punch holes, and put it in a binder. This is the exhilarating part where I feel overjoyed with myself: I finished my novel! It's gorgeous! I love it! I rule the world! I indulge myself through this period, because frankly, it isn't going to last to the end of the editing process.
This is where I find a red pen (a good one is a must, especially when you know your story is going to need it), curl up in a comfy chair, and buckle down to the minutiae of editing. I eliminate sentences, rewrite paragraphs, slash complete sections that have no bearing on the story. Sometimes, however, I'm not sure if a section is important or not, so I put a question mark beside it and set it aside (figuratively) for me to address when I start putting the edits into the computer. I'll also write notes to myself in the margins, for future consideration. After this, I haul the notebook to the computer, open the document again, and start revising. I don't necessarily follow what I wrote in the notebook, but often I do.
Now, a major part of editing White Sail's has been and is going to be adding sections that I skipped in the first draft. Because I had such a hard time with 2010 NaNo, trying to make my story cooperate and bully my characters into submission, I passed over chapters that I knew would kill me. These included just about all of the chapters wholly from Marta's perspective, and now that the story is "finished" and I have a better handle on her personality, I'm having to go back and add in those parts. I also jumped straight from Newport, RI, to Gibraltar with Tip and his companions, because at the time I had no idea what to do with the Atlantic crossing. I have ideas now, so again, more adding. This business could come toward the beginning of the process, where I ripped out subplots; the only reason it didn't is because I wasn't ready to do it then. I intend to do this as or after I transcribe the smaller edits.
And there you have it - how I edit. (I try to keep things fairly simple, because it keeps me sane.) What about you? Do you have a process you follow?