Wednesday, 11 July 2012

The Baby and the Bathwater

Editing your WIP or polishing your work, whichever you care to call it, can be either the fun part or a nightmare depending on your point of view.
     When I first started trying to write Pocket Novels, I much preferred the actual writing of the story, the creative process and the character and plot development. I was then impatient to get the story out there and wasn't keen to spend much time on editing.
     However, editing is absolutely essential to the process of a finished book. Nowadays when I write, my work goes through at least 3 to 4 edits. I write longhand with paper and pencil. Then I type it up which allows me to make the first changes - perhaps changing sentence structure, finding spelling errors and also making major changes such as a character's job or hair colour and so on.
     The second edit is made on the computer, again picking up jarring notes as I read it out loud from the screen. Here too is the opportunity to make further plot changes if things are heading off in the wrong direction as the manuscript lengthens.
     Finally I print the whole MS out and read it through again. There are still things needing changed and improved at this stage!!
     Before I send the book off to My Weekly, I take the time to make sure that paragraphs are indented, that chapters are numbered correctly and that my timeline really does work.
     It's important not to throw the baby out with the bathwater though. If I do decide to remove great chunks of text, I keep them in a separate folder and some if it can be recycled. For example I started a pocket novel which had three girls in it. It soon dawned on me that there was room for only one main female character so the other two had to be ditched to my spare folder. Later I took Melody from the folder and gave her her own story - published recently as 'Calling Home'. It's true, none of your work is ever really wasted!
My first published pocket novel -Wild For Love-  in its first incarnation was only 24,000 words long. Maggie (My Weekly's editor) kindly told me she liked the story but it was far too short for the market. It was only after several painful rewrites and lots and lots of editing that it was accepted - what a thrill! In a shameless plug - you will be able to buy it as an E-Book from tomorrow at Astraea Press.


  1. Hi Carol. All this goes to show what hard work it is to come up with the final polished product. Sometimes I hate editing, sometimes like now I enjoy it. I have tried a new method with my latest. Doing a skeleton first draft and fleshing it out. Not my usual style but I'm finding with a crime novella I need to do more precise plotting, laying clues, uncovering them etc. Hurrah for publishing with Astraea, me too! They've done you a lovely cover. I too keep everything and am often surprised by what can be recycled!

  2. Cara- very impressed you are turning to crime! Is this going to be a My Weekly mystery with romance or is it for a different market? It must be complicated getting the clues and red herrings threaded through the plot. Good Luck with it.

  3. Carol, what hard work it must be to write long-hand first, but it's a very good way of doing an edit when transferring to the computer. Reading out loud is good too to make sure things flow well. Thanks for an interesting post.
    Wishing you all the very best with your launch today!!

  4. It is My Weekly I'm aiming at. The only trouble is I'm finding the crime keeps on overtaking the romance. I do however have a very dishy Spanish guitarist as one love interest so I'm hoping he asserts himself!

  5. I hate editing (which is why I’ve ranted on about it on my blog) but every point you make here, Carol, strikes home. I try to write a chapter a day and like you, initially in longhand. Each chapter gets a light edit, spell check etc as it goes into the computer. Once the novel is finished the whole thing gets another edit, then a final read-through. So it pretty much follows the same procedure you work to. But I still hate editing!
    Putting the effort into getting it right really does pay off though. My last two pocket sales to People’s Friend were accepted without any requests for changes. I can’t tell you how happy that made me.
    Cara, well done you for attempting a murder/mystery story. I’m planning to try this next time; so all tips will be gratefully received. Rena x

  6. I try to edit each morning when I read the previous day's work. It catches me up with the story as well. I only write on the computer and as you say, keep chunks I discarded in another folder, usually titled 'bits'. I then read through completely and when I finish a book and have a few days off. Another read and sometimes one more, and I consider it done. Editing is the really boring bit. Usually think nobody will ever want to read after all that!
    I'm still seeking a home for my mystery/crime novel but currently trying for an agent. Hmm.
    Back to the erotica for now. Fifty shades of frustration but I WILL do it!

  7. Carol, relieved to hear someone else writes out that first draft longhand. Once I've plotted, the words flow but at their own pace so working by hand works for me. Plus I find I can disappear into my story world much easier and more deeply. I close my office door and I'm away. I do tinker with one or two rewrites and read it thoroughly for spelling and grammar, etc. but that first major draft is usually close to the finished one. But then, I do a lot of thinking and planning first which I find saves me time later on.