Sunday, 12 June 2011

Editing my own book (or not)

Is it really possible to edit your own book? I mean really edit it.

As my final word count was in the region of 220,000 words, I figured I needed to get cutting and fast (especially as I read somewhere the average novel has a word count of between 80-100,000). It's been tough though. Every scene was written for a reason and yes, I admit some are a little indulgent (random conversations, comic-caper esque scenarios) and these have been chopped out and inserted into my document entitled Deleted Scenes.

I'm now starting to get my head around the fact that I need to story to flow quickly in order for it to capture the readers attention. This was all the more evident when I got the book printed and sat down with it over a cup of coffee on a Saturday afternoon as I would with any other book. About a third of the way through, I got to a section that actually bored me. I WROTE IT and it bored me! That's when I knew I needed to be more heavy handed with the red pen and get crossing out entire pages. It's a brutal task but I either want the book published or I want a Word document sat on my computer for the rest of my life.

Once I got my head around this I came across another obstacle - over familiarity. I've been writing this book for a long time and it's adapted and evolved in such a way that I know both the characters and the story inside out. The best way I can describe it is like looking at photograph of yourself - you never really see yourself to be able to judge objectively whether it's a good, average or just really bad (okay, maybe the bad ones are easier to pick out). It's the same with the book. Aside from the obvious spelling mistakes and certain sentences that make me cringe and wonder whether a five year old version of myself could have done a better job, I'm struggling to pick out which bits are great and which need to go.

That's where I'm hoping my unofficial story editors come in but it's wrong of me to sit around and rely on other people before I start putting my book out there. It's the lazy option. So I figure I'll transpose all of my written amends into the computer document and start knocking on some doors and speaking to people. I figure this is going to be a long process anyway so by the time the editors are done and have fed back, I'll probably still be trying to convince some poor sap to be my agent.

Going to get making my own cuts and amends today. I just know I'll end up cutting scenes that my story editors will love and insist stay - sod's law! However, I have my Deleted Scenes document so will be able to dive head-first into the trash can to retrieve them if they think I've made some big mistakes.

It's a grey miserable Sunday and I'm trying to edit. Going to need copious amounts of coffee.



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