Fifty-fifty

Actually, what I mean is 50,050. That’s how long the Christmas story is.

You know, the one I thought I could write as a NaNo project with time to spare. Hahahahaha says my muse. It only took me four and a half months to write. Actually, I guess as things go that’s not actually that bad to say “I wrote a novel in four months.” But, come on. It’s a short novel.

I am happy with the cut this time. I think it will stand.

So, I will have it printed, all 150 pages double-spaced on paper, and start the rather long and tedious process of line editing this beast by hand, the way I used to do in my college editing course, with a hot pink pen and hyperfocus and utter ruthlessness.

I have never edited fiction in quite the same way I used to edit papers during and after that course. Up till now my M.O. has been to read the story back and change the words that struck me while reading it, until I could read it back three times and not want to change a word. Perhaps not a terrible way to do it–I still read my Twelfth Night stories without wanting to change them, two years later–but also not a terribly professional way to do it. Does my taste-only process really make my writing the best it could be, or merely good enough not to flag my inner critic?

There is a danger, I know, in editing with too heavy a hand–you can edit out what makes your writing your own and conform it to a pale shadow of someone else’s style. But there is also room for evaluating every sentence to make sure it says what you want it to say as clearly and effortlessly as possible.

I spent a couple hours reading through my new book this morning on my phone–I built an ebook and loaded it to my Kindle app–to see how it looked and felt in its end format, and also because someone recommeded that as a great way to spot typos. I haven’t counted up all the places I flagged as an error or inconsistent or just awkward while reading, but it was at least twenty and likely more. Definitely a rough draft. I see a lot of room for improvement in making the words more exactly what I want to express.

Before moving any further, I am waiting for feeback from beta reader 1 on the 8000 additional words and beta readers 2 and 3 who just got the story sent to them. Once I have their responses I’ll integrate what I found today with their troubles spotted and then print a refined rough draft for line editing.

I am not in a hurry on the line editing for a couple reasons. First, I am not going to publish the book until next fall, so I have no time crunch. Second, I find a cold evaluation of my words easier when I have been away from a project for a while and literally cannot remember what I wrote, so line editing later rather than sooner will actually be beneficial to my efforts.

In the meantime, I guess I’ll revisit my editorial hit-list to see if I need to add any additional dimensions now that its first official use is at hand….

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2 Comments

Filed under Housekeeping, Writing

2 responses to “Fifty-fifty

  1. Writing a novel, regardless of how long it takes, is no small feat. Kudos to you for being able to keep going after the official end of NaNo. I wish you all the best with your line edits — waiting a while and doing it by hand is definitely the most helpful way to spot mistakes in my experience. Good luck!

    • Thanks, Jonny! One of my non-resolutions for this year in writing is to remind myself of what I have accomplished rather than what I haven’t.

      I, too, have found that seeing (and making) marks on paper is just the best way to line edit. It creates a visual map of what you are changing and tightening…all the ink makes you feel like you’ve actually done something. Or, if there is very little, that you’re right where you need to be. 🙂

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