I’m in the middle of a first draft edit, so editing is definitely on my mind. Because of that, I got to thinking about content edits today, and all that is involved in editing a troubled draft. (Believe me, every first draft is troubled in its way.)
As I go through my novel, I realize that I’m skipping over some things in order to come back to them. And I think that’s okay. I think that’s the most sanity-stabilizing approach I could take right now.
You see, content edits are tough stuff. They are intricate and complex. One ripple could set off major waves in a different scene (or even scenes). And I can’t handle all of that all at once.
The good thing is, I don’t have to.
I realized, as I was trying to plan out this post, that you can break content edits down categorically. And you can go about them taking one type at a time (if you want).
- These edits involve making the world of your story a little more real. You flesh out setting and character description how you want them. You explain things that might not be obvious at first glance about how your world works. You explain characters’ actions in a way that really makes the choices make sense. That kind of thing.
- Backstory. Fooling around with backstory is a large part of my plot development editing.
- These edits can be crazy difficult for me (and I imagine I’m not alone there). It’s one thing to realize, “I don’t get why this character is saying this.” It’s another to figure out how to work around the issue. How do I make his or her reasoning plain? Do I need to cut the whole portion of dialogue? How do I make up for what necessary info would have to be cut along with the problem stuff?
- I consider plot tweaks changes that are more minor than plot development edits, but that have similar effects: they make things more cohesive all the way around.
- You can “tweak” a line of dialogue so that it sounds more like the character’s voice, or it stays more on target to the topic of conversation.
- You can “tweak” things such as character placement. Maybe your character is leaning against the wall and then suddenly standing in the middle of the room or sitting in a chair. (Oops!)
- For me, the hard part about plot tweaks is figuring out that I need to make a quick but significant change. That can be easy to overlook. (YEA for beta readers!) Yesterday I mentioned I will need to do at least one more read-through of this novel, after this round of edits. I will need to catch all the tweaks I missed making the first time (plus the errors I edited in.)
- Sometimes you have to add to a subplot.
- Heck, sometimes you have to add a subplot, in its totality. That’s been my situation in every novel I’ve written, I think. Perhaps because I don’t plan everything out ahead of time.
- With my current WIP, I’m dealing with two new subplots…. And it’s going to be trouble (:-P) Trouble in a fun way. (I love seeing how much each day of editing improves the story from what it was before.)
I’m not trying to handle all these things at once. I’m just taking it one day at a time. When I don’t have the energy to edit something particularly difficult, I pass on it and move on to something I feel more inclined to tackle.
Eventually, I’ll get to everything. Weird that this approach is so different from how I usually do things….. I’m not complaining, though, because so far it’s working. 🙂
We all have to deal with these edits…. Is there a kind of edit that you particularly like, or maybe dislike? Why is that?
If you enjoyed this post, you can sign up to follow my blog by email at the top right of the page. You might also be interested in these related posts:
- Content Edits versus Flow Edits
- Approaching a Chaotic First Draft
- The Best Things About the Worst Part of Writing
- What to Consider Before You Make Cuts