Saturday, February 6, 2016

The Long and Winding Editing Road—What I've Done So Far

I've been inspired by Katie at Spiral-Bound's "Editing Diaries" posts to do my own editing series. Currently, I'm in the process of editing a fairytale-fantasy novel I wrote in 2014, and I want you to join me on this journey! Maybe, together, we can learn a few things about writing along The Long and Winding Editing Road.

In December 2013, I had the first idea for this story (since it is still title-less, it shall hereby be known as the Fantasy Novel). When I started writing in January 2014, I had no outline and only a vague idea of where I wanted the plot to go. I love outlines, but I was curious about where the story would take me if I didn't have a plan.
Three hand-written notebooks and twelve months later, the plot had changed so considerably that I was lost. I needed to go back and plan; so, I spent much of 2015 re-plotting my novel.
I wanted to write a summary of every scene on separate notecards so that I could rearrange, add, and subtract scenes at will, but I soon discovered that writing out every single scene would lead to and overwhelming amount of notecards. Instead, I decided to write out a summary of each chapter as it appeared in the novel at the time:

Much more manageable, as you can see!

Then came the hard part: fixing the plot problems! I rewrote and rearranged countless cards until I was satisfied with the story.
Cait from Paper Fury says that when she rewrites, she starts from scratch and every single word is different. That astounded me—until I began rewriting my Fantasy Novel in the Fall of 2015. Though not every word is different, I changed almost the entire book!
My only previous novel-editing experience—with my first book, After the Twelfth Night—was completely different. With After the Twelfth Night, I wrote the first draft on the computer and the second draft on paper. With my Fantasy Novel, I wrote the first draft on paper, and am working on subsequent drafts on my computer. With After the Twelfth Night, I had an outline from the beginning. When it came to rewriting, I only had to add scenes to make the story better. With my Fantasy Novel, nearly the entire plot had to be rewritten, which is why I changed nearly every sentence.
I finished the second draft in November 2015. I needed to distance myself from the story, so I put the book away during December. I've only just started working on it again, but let's save that for another post, shall we?

If you are a writer, what does your editing process look like?


  1. I admire your thoroughness and dedication to this project. The process for creating my first novel was somewhat similar sans the notecards. I rewrote every chapter pretty heavily and some more than once.

    For my last novel, I used a "calendar" outline. I just listed the start date and then what happened on each day in chronological order (skipping some days for travel, for example). I also had a map which I created as part of the development. Between these two aids, writing the novel was like falling off a log. I always knew where and when the scenes were. I just breezed through it and the current (3rd) draft is the exact same story as the first.

    The only change came between the 1st and second draft in which I *added* 25,000 words. A big no-no, I know, but they were almost all world-building and description. I just wanted it to be a richer, deeper world.

    1. Your calendar method sounds like it works really well! I remember going to a museum a few years ago and seeing some of J.R.R. Tolkien's handwritten notes on Lord of the Rings and he did something similar... He wrote where each member of the Fellowship was on each day significant to the plot.
      Adding words for that purpose is perfectly acceptable. :)

  2. I am totally fascinated by your process! I can't wait to learn more! :)