Know Your Draft’s Issues Before You Edit

If you follow my blog, then you might know that my NaNoWriMo novel this year is the first in a second trilogy of novels about a fantasy world I created named Herezoth. The first trilogy spans some twenty-five years, and I love the over-all story arc and how everything comes together at the end of it.

That left me in a bit of a dilemma as to continuing to write about Herezoth–something I very much wanted to do. I decided I could continue with the kingdom using the children of two major characters from the first trilogy. I wanted this trilogy to follow upon its predecessor while still not relying upon it to the point that someone would HAVE to have read the first one to understand what was happening.

HOW SEPARATED CAN YOU KEEP THEM?

I discovered pretty quickly that well, when the royal family features pretty heavily in trilogy one, and the king’s daughter is a major player in trilogy two, you can’t separate old characters out as effectively as you first thought you could. (Barring stating that they died, which would be, well: it would not be cool. I could not kill off the king’s sons or Vane Unsten! Since Vane’s daughters are majorly important in my NaNoWriMo novel, well…. more overlap. Tons more.)

Even using old characters, I’m trying to refer back to their old adventures as little as possible. When I must, I’m explaining everything as succinctly as possible. Thinking ahead a bit to editing, I know this issue is going to prove a beast: but between writing and editing, I’ll have time to think a bit about how I want to handle the situation.

I had the option, I suppose, of using characters unrelated to those in the first set of novels. But I didn’t want to, and I have to say I’m glad I didn’t. I do think I’ll find a way to make it work. It will just make for some careful, precise tuning…. Which leads to me to a piece of advice (the real point of this post):

KNOW YOUR DRAFT’S ISSUES BEFORE YOU EDIT

It’s always a good idea, whether your novel is a series novel or not–and whether you’re a planner or a pantser–to sit down before you begin a first read-through and/or edit and consider what your problem issues are likely to be, based upon what you remember about the draft and your experience writing it.

  • What plot points are most complex and most likely to confuse the read, and thus more likely to require careful attention/development?
  • Where might you have plot holes/inconsistencies that need clarification?
  • Which characters might benefit from more development, perhaps through flashbacks or additional backstory?
  • Which aspects of the plot might not be necessary after all?
  • What is the overall tone of your piece? What might you do to fine-tune that tone?
  • Where does your plot move quickly? Slowly? Where might you anticipate pacing problems?

Thinking ahead and having some idea of what to look out for is a great way not to overlook where you can improve your novel. Be careful, though: don’t read with such a narrow vision that you only look for problems you’re aware of and so miss picking up on other issues you didn’t realize might need a bit of tweaking!

Well, that’s all for today. Hope this piece is helpful, especially for my fellow WriMos, as we wrap up our November novels and begin to reshape them.

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2 responses to “Know Your Draft’s Issues Before You Edit

  1. Excellent advice, I am writing a long story. Spanning a few decades too. However, this years nano starts at the beginning. 🙂 So it has been a case of taking characters only mentioned in the main series before and letting them ‘live’ A great experience though.

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