I have taken upon myself the onerous task of re-reading part one of my second draft before moving on to part two. I’ve known while I’ve been writing that there were clunky bits, parts that dragged, and scenes that were probably placeholders in the long run.
It’s at this point that I have that all-too-familiar feeling. You know, that one where you thought your writing was pretty decent, but it turns out it’s actually a steaming pile of awfulness.
Things do not look encouraging.
So I switch off my writing brain. I switch it off completely and utterly. I am not allowed to think writer AT ALL.
Instead, I think organised (which, for anyone who actually knows me, will be hilarious as this is quite the rare occasion. It may also involve me deploying the world’s largest collection of stationary).
Out come the coloured pens, the highlighters, the post its, the notebooks, and the revision cards.
So here’s how I begin editing. I hope some of these tips can be useful to you!
- Clean page in a new notebook. Heading: Inconsistencies and Plot Holes.
- I read through entire of part one and write down every little inconsistency. It may be having one character do something that they did four pages earlier. It might be a gaping plot hole (or something you thought was a solution that’s actually made it worse). It might be forgetting a new character existed when you rewrote that scene and you’ve all the wrong names typed up.
- While I’m reading, I pick out typos and silly errors or sentences I’ve written twice.
- Also consistencies. WHY have you written scenes in that order, brain? WHY? Do you REALISE it makes no logical sense? (And then I note down what order those scenes should actually be in for when this gets hacked up and glued back together).
- Turn to a new page. Write down the order the scenes SHOULD be in.
- Turn to a new page. Write down the order the scenes are in NOW.
- I put the manuscript to one side and BRING FORTH THE COLOURED PENS AND NOTECARDS. On each revision card, I write one of the scenes in one colour (usually blue or black or something boring.)
- Using my inconsistency notes from earlier, I write on the relevant scene’s card all the problems that need fixing in this particular scene. I also write down where it needs to be relocated to if that applies.
Now I’ve got all of that at hand, my next task is to actually do the things I’ve realised I have to do. (I may not have done that yet).