Three Part Editing
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
I’ve been through and done a total edit and I’m posting at my writing network.
The good thing is that the novel is being read by Americans, one Canadian and an Aussie. I like this because they can pick out things which read awkwardly to them that to my Jamaican ears might sound natural. Then too, there’s the habit I’m trying to kick of making my sentences more complex than they need to be. Since my biggest market will be overseas, it makes sense to produce something that won’t have the reader scratching her head in puzzlement.
Now to get back to the readiness of the novel. When I started editing a month or so ago, I came across a comment from someone who critiqued the story a year or so ago. At the time, Courtney felt the characters needed more to them, in terms of their personal preferences and overall character traits. I took the comment to heart and decided on a different approach to editing this novel. (Thanks, Courtney!)
Among the things I’ve done is to print out the chapters according to characters. I deliberately haven’t done the main protagonist first. I started with the least likeable of the three women. She’s the one people don’t understand, or rather, they don’t understand her motives. She’s brash and admittedly not someone you’d take to at the first meeting. However, I know why she is the way she is, and this is where her history/background comes in.
In taking the book apart the way I have and reading her story in isolation, I have a much clearer picture of her. It’s an interesting experience and I can’t think why I haven’t done this before with the books where I have multiple protagonists. More and more, I seem to be writing my stories that way. From here on in, I’ll edit those books character by character. It only makes sense.
Reading through and editing each character’s story without anybody else getting in the way has enabled me to paint a more vivid picture. I’m delving deeper into each character, putting in relatives where before I’d only mentioned them in passing. I’m dredging up childhood experiences, showing each woman why she is who she turned out to be. I’m forcing them to use their strengths, talents, acknowledge their weaknesses; in essence, I’m breathing more life into them.
I suspect I’ll have to make adjustments in the corresponding chapters, maybe change the way these women view their friendship, so they’ll understanding each other better. I made some errors with my first published novel in that I had a character who, in retrospect, existed in an isolated bubble that contained only her love interest and her family. I believe in learning new things and not making the same mistakes, if possible. The only regret I have is that I didn’t think to edit the novel this way before the final posting I’m putting up on the writing network.
However, I’ve no doubt I’ll emerge with a deeper, richer novel, and at the same time, move my writing to a higher level. Discovered any editing tricks lately that work for you? Do share.