This is why I say that flexibility is so important to us writers. You’ve got to adapt.
My experience with “The Esclavan Abductions” (my current project) is definitely reinforcing that. I am rapidly realizing that the book is going to need at least one more read-through, and I have never, ever done multiple read-throughs before. Not through five novels that I’ve written.
(A read-through, for me, is when I read a draft with the aim of getting through it as quickly as possible. While reading, rather than stopping to edit anything, I just take notes on what isn’t working so I can fix it later. That helps me get through the novel faster.)
I’ve been editing the work’s first draft, working with notes from my first read-through and also changing things according to a breakthrough I had about the plot after the read-through.
I’m about a third of the way through my first edit, which seems more of an accomplishment than it is because the bulk of all my plot changes will be coming in the second half.
- I’m adding whole subplots that haven’t come into play yet (at least not substantially)
- I’m altering subplots to fit the new stuff and make the story more credible overall
- I’m changing the dynamic of a relationship that constitutes a large part of the second half
- I will be cutting and/or rewriting entire scenes
I’ve never overhauled a first draft quite to this extent. Which is fine: I’m enjoying the process, which is why I’m continuing to edit rather than throwing in the towel and rewriting from page one.
I’m starting to realize how radically different my approach to editing this novel will have to be from any way I’ve edited before, though.
The changes I’ll be making are so expansive, so sweeping, that the result will be much more like a first draft than any previous second draft I’ve produced.
As that’s the case, this particular second draft will benefit, I’m sure, from its own read-through. There’s no way for me to get a global image of the new version’s flow and cohesion by reading it scene by scene, piece by piece, adjusting things here and there as I go.
So remember when you get to writing, or even editing:
- DON’T DO SOMETHING ONE WAY JUST BECAUSE “THAT’S HOW I DO IT.” There is no right way to edit and to write that will span your entire writing career. The key to successful writing over multiple projects is making adjustments as necessary. If your usual approach isn’t working this time around, it’s time to try something different.
- IF YOUR GUT IS TELLING YOU TO BREAK YOUR PATTERN, BREAK IT. If your muse is whispering to you to do things differently, try doing things differently. Break your mold. If that doesn’t work, you can always backtrack and apply your usual method.
So, what do you think about this? Have you ever developed a mode of writing and editing, only to change your process as needed?
Feel free to leave your thoughts and share your experiences. If you enjoyed this post, you might enjoy these other posts on read-throughs.