I share my flexible processes to give others a glimpse into other approaches. They can then steal what might work for them or ignore what I do. Who knows, what I do might spark inspiration on their part. Adopting pieces of other processes was how I built my ever-evolving approach to drafting. That resulted in a lot of novels.
It’s time, though, to march towards publishing.
Sure, over the years I’ve gone through my stories, but with unfocused intent as I moved through from beginning to end. As I mentioned a month ago, I realized Protecting the Pneuma Key had progressed more quickly because I’d bounced around its chapters while editing.
That’s led to trying Targeted Editing, but I needed a plan so I don’t keep editing the same issues while ignoring others.
Targeted Editing will be, I hope, my last step before turning to outside aid. Keep in mind, too, that I’m always evolving what I do and am open to change. I’m also recognize that each novel is different and that I change as a writer.
My Editing Evolution
To this point, my approach after drafting was to dive back into the novel to remove chunks I knew had to go or add what was missing. I’d also make notes about issues that struck me at the time. Then, I let the novel sit.
Some time later, I’d return to the novel and read through it from beginning to end while writing what I (and some others) call a Revision Map. It’s a chapter by chapter overview of the novel and what needs fixed. The primary focus is on content, specifically plot and character arcs.
*Any time I am going through a story for any reason I’ll fix typos and other micro errors if I see them.
To this point, the Revision Map was the extent of my formal approach. What though, was Targeted Editing to be besides just jumping around?
I spent a lot of time in April figuring out just that. What I ended up with was a one page list of everything that should be addressed in some fashion. It isn’t detailed, but, instead, more of an overview or what to check and/or fix.
That lengthy list, though, was a bit overwhelming so I came up with something similar to the Revision Map, but focused on essential elements other than arcs.
I’m simply calling it a Novel Scan because, well, why not?
The Novel Scan
I then quickly went through Protecting the Pneuma Key from beginning to end taking notes pertaining to pacing, conflict, tension, themes, structure, and momentum. I also made a note of any miscellaneous issues.
For instance, was a chapter’s pace appropriate for its content and as it related to the novel’s structure? Was the tension suitable and sufficient? How might I fix it (deep thinking will happen later)? Structure? How close was each chapter to falling where intended?
*I nailed the structure on every chapter … go me!
I fear I’m making this sound more inflexible than it is. It’s just me wanting to avoid oversights, which I’ve done before. It was obvious that my targeting to this point had been missing about 10% of the chapters. Too, this is just a starting point because I have to start somewhere.
When I finished the Novel Scan in late May I took some time away to perform a light edit on Case of the Deadly Stroll. I finished that on May 31st.
So, I’m about to begin Pneuma Key and will have the Novel Scan as a guide when I target a chapter. That guide will take into account the larger, macro picture while I also examine, for instance, word choice, like stronger verbs, descriptions, and the like.
In short, I hope this will keep me from going through the novel and always fixing the easy chapters or ignoring problems with an offhand, I’ll catch it next time. I’m hoping that forcing myself to address what I have sidestepped in the past will make me a better self-editor. We’ll see.