Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Work Habits in Writing and Editing

I discovered something last night that I didn't realize before.  I don't have as much editing work to do as I thought I did on my manuscript.

The punch came while I was reviewing the book Novelists Essential Guide to Crafting Scenes by Raymond Obstfeld.  He's a prolific writer (claiming 35 novels) and a teacher at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, CA.  I read the last chapter of that book last night, and shut my eyes to give thanks.

I did all of the things that he recommends doing, saving the easiest step -- streamlining the narrative and descriptive passages for maximum effect -- for last.

Until last night, I was despairing of the amount of work left to do.  I wondered if I'd ever do it, or if I'd ever want to do it.  After reading that, I think I finally do.  I think I want to edit my manuscript, to cut it to shreds and strengthen it.  I haven't addressed any dialog; I've told all of you that, and why.  But I've edited the first six chapters.  It's 47 chapters long, and that's a bit daunting, but I think I finally have the enthusiasm for it to get as much done as I can.

There are other matters more pressing still, but when I do have free time, I think editing my manuscript is going to be something I truly enjoy.  Seeing it come to fruition is once again possible, and I don't have the vaunting tasks ahead of me I thought I did.  I have the blogosphere to thank for that, believe it or not.

Publishing the novel in blog format first forced me to write in sections, and to edit and clean-up each section, to demand of it its purpose in the whole.  I was able to have a brilliant beta reader go over it before you ever laid eyes on it.  I had the benefit of a proofreader that kept me inline.  I had someone help me make decisions on whether one version or another made the story work best.  I had a lot of help getting here, and quite accidentally, I am now doing the easiest part to finalize the document.

That's quite a relief.  It's a bit of joy, actually.  And I'm going to push forward doing it.  If I can do three or four chapters a night, it won't take all that long to finalize it.  Hopefully I can do more, but I'm not going to get too ambitious.  I will say, however, there is less work to do in the later chapters than in the first three.  The last three were far easier to do, require far less cutting and trimming, and if the subsequent chapters are like that one, it should be a piece o' cake ... mostly.

Just thought I'd share.  I hope you're all doing well.  God bless.


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