Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Five tips for editing your novel!

Many writers dread the editing process and, I freely admit, I used to be one of them but you know what? After three edits of the same novel, I have finally discovered that it can be quite fun. Yes, fun!

Okay, well maybe not THIS much fun.
When you've left a novel alone for a long time, revisiting it is like meeting up with friends you haven't seen for a couple of years. Things have changed in your life, you have new experiences to talk about, different stories to tell. Everything is good and glowing and exciting. You rediscover their funny little quirks and find that you really missed their self-deprecating sense of humour.

And then you introduce a new friend to the equation and they love your old friend. They love your old friend so much, they keep bugging you for more get togethers. They tell you things about your old friend that they've noticed - things you hadn't thought about. Seeing your old friend through your new friend's eyes really helps you appreciate all the good things about them.

Of course, the new friend also likes to gossip about the old friend pointing out (in a totally non-bitchy way, natch) the annoying things about them too. And their flaws. But this is all okay because, once you know all the things that aren't quite 'right' about your old friend, you can set about changing them. At least, you can if the old friend happens to be a book you wrote (or maybe if you're a psychiatrist. Do they even have friends?!?)

So, this is where I'm at right now. Having given a friend my manuscript to read (purely as a reader. She doesn't write which, I think, is a really good thing), she's given me a different perspective from previous writing buddies that have read it and a few things that require clarification or beefing up a little. To that end, my top tip is here, at number one in the list:

  1. Get somebody who has never read it before to read through it. Fresh eyes are the best! Believe me, they will pick out things that are missing like WHOLE SCENES. Good grief, you say, how can you miss out entire scenes? Well, after a brutal editing round last time and all of the story residing in your head, it's easy to 'think' bits in when you, the writer, are reading through your own story.
  2. Print it out in a different font/size/colour to whatever you typed it in. Apparently, this tricks your brain into thinking it's something fresh you're reading and not the book you've been working on for the past eleven years months.
  3. Jot down the main points of each chapter as you read them. Then you can check that continuity is alive and well in your novel and someone isn't enjoying a beautiful scenic bike ride through the English countryside when, two chapters previously, they were talking about how they never learnt to ride a bike and haven't learnt how to in the in between chapters.
  4. Read it out loud or, at least, read aloud your dialogue. If it sounds stunted and clumsy when you read it out, then it needs to be changed. You can get programmes that will read text for you - try a free trial and see if that works for you before splashing out on it or check out this free text to voice software.
  5. Have lots of chocolate on standby. Let's face it, this is just a top tip for life in general.
Stick your face in one of these when it all gets a bit much
And, if you have no idea how to even begin editing, then take a look at these links:

I like Writer Unboxed so much, I'm adding it to my regular blog visit list - loads of really informative and succinct articles and interesting author interviews, etc. Go and check it out!

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Final edit ahoy!

I have recently been afflicted with a heinous staph infection ON MY HANDS. Thanks to some severe scratching of hand eczema combined with soaring stress levels and the heat, my right hand resembled something out of a horror movie. In fact, I looked like I was starting to turn into one of the 'prawns' from District 9. Yuck. Not only was it incredibly gross to look at, it was intensely painful (I spent a weekend with my hand on packs of peas, dosed up with Ibuprofen) and incredibly restrictive.

I did discover something about myself though. I am, in no way, ambidextrous. In fact, I believe I am as far from ambidextrous as it is possible to be. You would think I might lose some weight what with not being able to use cutlery but you would be so, so wrong. Turns out, biscuits and chocolate bars are super easy to eat even using your ridiculously ineffective left hand. Ripping packets open with your teeth is pretty effective.

Anyway, all this means that I haven't been able to do any typing and I couldn't even really edit my hard copy of Rock-a-Lillie as I couldn't hold a pen! However, things are back to normal now (apart from lots of little marks on my hands and forearms which I really, really hope won't leave any scars) and I am feeling in the right frame of mind to tackle yet another edit!

I already have a few ideas of some little things that I want to change. Nothing massive, at this stage doing a major overhaul seems counter-productive, but just things that I think would appeal to my market a little bit more.  A bit more fighting spirit in my heroine, more interaction between her and her best friend, more band scenes, etc. I probably just need to add in a few extra scenes here and there to make it exactly what I want.

I've also been wondering whether splitting it into a series would work better. Shorter novels seem to be very popular these days and I do think I could easily split this novel into two books with a final book really wrapping it all up and following the two main characters a bit further into their futures.

I would honestly relish the thought of carrying on with the characters in Rock-a-Lillie - I love my hero and his best friend - it would be interesting to write more of his life and his motivations for the way he behaves. A couple of early readers really fell in love with him and he certainly wrote himself into more and more of the fabric of the story as it went on. He became quite a major part of things really and instrumental in some pivotal scenes. Maybe he could have a spin-off novel later on? Perhaps I'm getting carried away now!  Is anyone e-publishing a contemporary romance series at the moment? Are you finding it successful? Or do you wish you'd stuck with the more traditional stand alone novel?

I'm not sure how I will have time for all this as I have just been asked to go full time at work - there goes a good few hours of free time! Looks like I will have to take a look at some serious time management - apart from getting up early (anyone who knows me will be laughing at the idea of that), I'm not sure where I can fit in writing time. Does anyone have any suggestions - how do you find writing time without getting up at 6am? I'm really not good in the mornings.