Once I completed the first draft and typed those final two words… ‘The End‘ the sense of accomplishment was amazing. However, I knew that was only the first phase. What was to follow are times more challenging than actually writing it.
Remember, I’ve no literary scholarship or doctorate behind me so after giving myself a brief respite and taking the advice of someone, I downloaded Grammarly. Why did I get an editing programme after the first draft? The primary reason was to have the words put down and MS word helped with keeping the page free of red, blue and green wiggly lines. It didn’t matter if they were the correct words or even misspelt and as for grammar and punctuation again they weren’t as important.
Of course, there is the age-old adage; Pride cometh before a fall. Yes, I could have stubbornly continued with the editing process until it either overwhelmed me. Leaving me in a dark corner curled up in the foetal position inanely babbling to myself. But occasionally I’m smart enough to know when to rein in my pride. Hence I understood I would need more than one or more computer programmes helping me with the process. So I signed up for an editing course which deals specifically with book manuscripts.
The first thing I gleaned was if I was to have any shot at a publisher looking at my book I must get it well below 129500 words. Instantly I felt the hairs on my neck rise in protest at such a thought. These are the words I spent lunchtimes weekend and an average of five hours a night for six months with only a few nights or days of in respite. So why should I just pull them from the garden of my work like so many weeds?
When the tutor asked how we each did our editing I proudly told her I searched for common, overused and lazy words. Within seconds I felt the wind taken from my proud wings when she pointed out in a positive way I was just line editing. What I and the others in my class need to do is “Edit.”
With that done we were given a task to complete which was writing a chapter and scene plan from the first draft. Now either by intention or design completing this chapter plan separated me from my manuscript Something which enabled me to view it in a much more detached manner.
The result after three weeks is a leaner manuscript because I found so so many areas of to much detail in the showing, where simply telling would have sufficed. I also had repetitive prose throughout different chapters, and dialogue was trimmed with a simple show or tell to carry the message.
I listened to a couple of published authors speak of whole chapters being cut or skimmed by their editors. Ha, not me I thought. Ha, I was wrong… After saving a copy, I did just that with a complete chapter. A click and drag of the mouse followed by a tap of the delete key and in the blink of an eye thousands of words vanished from the story, making no difference to its flow.
My manuscript now has only twenty-five chapters and just over 114500 words. I still need to work on the lazy and repetitive words and with Grammarly’s help find others which can be cut or sentences reworded to shave off a few more words.
And so the work continues…