So Badlands is out in the world being read and (hopefully) enjoyed and now I move on to the sticky business of bashing “Bleak Waters” into shape.
The first draft was completed a couple of weeks back, and I started the first read through of the text yesterday.
Currently, I’m nine and half chapters in and thus far the notes I’m making consist of “Expand”, “Move”, “Add Detail” and (my personal favourite) “Who the f*** is Ollie!”.
(On that last one, I have no idea. He’s mentioned once in a brief conversation between Lily, the main character, and her best friend, Mel. I don’t even remember writing it!!).
For me, editing the first draft is the hardest part of the whole writing process, particularly when working on a novel.
It’s the stage where the biggest changes are made to plot and character (sorry readers, but Ollie’s for the chop I’m afraid), and the changes I make in this stage will have a profound effect on the story as a whole.
To give an example, with Badlands the first draft came in at 110’000 words. At this stage of the process I cut a whole plot line, changed the beginning and the end and rewrote a good portion of the text.
The second draft came in at 93’000 words, roughly the same length as the finished book, and while some parts were extensively rewritten last summer, for the most part the story in draft two is pretty much the same as the finished book.
My approach to this part of the process is to read through the text as a whole and try to limit note taking to the odd observation. The aim is to read the whole thing as quickly as possible and remind myself of the story from start to finish.
There is, of course, the temptation to start tinkering with the text straight away, particularly as, at this stage, the beginning of the book is normally the weakest part.
I force myself to ignore that temptation, whilst simultaneously allowing new ideas and thoughts for the beginning to percolate. If I didn’t, I’d never get past the first few chapters
Another reason for this is that I can only see the relevance of the beginning once I read through to the end. Change it too early and I risk derailing the whole project.
So for now the plan is to read through the text as quickly as possible, to get an overview of the forest rather than the trees. Once that’s complete I should have a better idea of what needs to be done to improve the work.
Then it’s out with the red editing pen (or in this case the track changes function on Word) and on with turning Bleak Waters into a worthy companion to Badlands.