Milestones and Doubt

I think I finished my second pass at the first edit last night. I say “I think” because I’m feeling a tremendous urge to throw out all the rewrites that I’ve completed over the past six weeks or so, and in fact to toss the entire document in my computer’s recycle bin. Which would, technically, put me back in the re-writing process, although more at the even-before-the-starting-point-of-square-one point than at the fixing-what’s-wrong-with-it point.

I’m pretty sure this draft is worse than the first. Tsunamis of doubt about the changes I’ve made are pummeling the coastline of my confidence in this project. I thought last night about how bizarre and awkward it felt writing the necessary changes into the end of the book. Then I thought for even longer about going back and deleting all my new changes and reverting to the first draft I finished with in July. Then I had a drink and consulted with my wife and decided to let the changes breathe for a little while before doing anything drastic (which is probably always a good policy on both counts: consulting with the wife and letting things breathe).

After pondering on it for a night, I’m going to let those changes stand for this pass. I’m going to take one final pass on the story to address my remaining notes and clean up the language, and then it’ll be time to pass it along to some readers. I’m thinking that can be done by the end of January. I’ve missed my goal to have this first edit done by the new year, but given that I had no idea how much time the edit should take in the first place, I’m not unhappy about that.

I recall, now, thinking back at the beginning of this process that I had no idea how to attack it, and I think the process that I blundered into worked … well enough. That would be a process with three legs:

  1. Read the draft, taking notes on major plot points, inconsistencies, character tracking, and anything else that needs fixing.
  2. Rewrite it, smashing the broken bits to pieces and building it back bit by bit. Crowbar in the changes that need to be made and hack out the stuff that’s taking up space.
  3. Read it again, cleaning up language and fixing any lingering errors.

As has been pointed out multiple times on this blarg, I’m hardly an expert, and I don’t know what I’m doing. However, I spent a lot of time hemming and hawing about how I was going to approach this edit, and if I can have this method in mind for the next time I need it, maybe I can save myself a couple days of strife.

So, on Monday, I start on the third leg. I was going to read with a scalpel in hand, but I think after my last post about how bloated the thing has become, I’m actually going to be using a hatchet.


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