I have a few blog posts going but in the midst of Heritage edits, I felt inspired to put those aside and focus on a writer’s best friend/worse enemy: the editing phase!
Yes that dreaded beloved part of the writing process where the magic really happens!
Like a magic trick, the final product – in this case a book – is revealed as a wondrous whole but the audience doesn’t get to see the work that went into making that illusion real.
There’s a lot to consider when editing a book. There are different stages of editing. A first draft is often a mess of ideas and strings of words (some writers nail it on the first try – they are the exception) and requires rewrites and revisions of characters, subplots, arcs. Once the story is solid (it can take a few edits to get it right), then come the line edits where the focus is on the language conveying the tale, the style of prose, the voice. And then there are the nitty gritty copy edits and proofreads where grammar and syntax and spelling are cleaned up for a final copy.
Right now, I’m somewhere between a developmental and line edit. I’ve been tackling Heritage since early 2016 after writing it for NaNoWriMo in 2015. Since then, I’ve made a lot of big changes, primarily:
- Switched from third person to first person
- Switched the gender of a character from male to female
- Extended a subplot that needed more room to breathe and develop
- Removed a whole subplot that slowed the action at the beginning
- Basically rewrote it to suit a younger audience. Originally wrote with Young Adults in mind. Now, it is aimed at Middle Grade.
I had thought at this point in my writing process, that Heritage would be ready for my critique partners and editor. But new revelations have thrown a wrench at the best laid plans…
Because it has occurred to me that Heritage should be written in third person POV!
You say now: “But Faith! You spent a whole edit just changing it from third to first. What are you doing to yourself?”
I answer you: “I am doing what must be done to save the story I love.”
Though it’s certainly not as epic as that, this edit feels like I’m taking on an insurmountable obstacles. But I love this story enough to make one last big change and reap the reward at the end.
So that’s where I am, but I wonder if I would be here if I had taken different steps earlier on.
When I first wrote Heritage, I wasn’t thinking enough about audience or POV. I was thinking story, characters, world and theme. Which isn’t a bad thing. My story came out strong enough on the first try because I knew where I was going – even though some things changed during the writing because as much as I plan, I also leave myself open to diverge as inspiration strikes.
What I have learned from this experience is how important is to decide on the voice and POV and audience at the start. It was always something I took for granted. I assumed YA, but I never allowed myself to consider MG. I wrote in third because I struggle with first then changed it because I believed the narrative needed a more intimate voice. But the whimsy I want to capture with it now written as MG means I need a third person narration.
I am glad for this learning curve and proud of it. Ever since Heritage, I’ve taken more care to consider more thoroughly where I want to go with my stories and who I want to reach them with and the proper voice to convey them.
Eléonore and Heralding were published after I’d switched from third to first in Heritage and so I was able to recognize early on that the only way to tell that story was in Eléonore’s voice with all the snark and maternal love she has.
So writing tip for the week, friends! Even if you’re a pantser, don’t overlook the importance of determining voice and audience from the start. It will save you a big headache further down the line. Believe you, me!
Friendly reminder: if you’re looking for an editor to tackle your novel or screenplay, my sister and I offer editing services here: Inky Service 😉
And question for you, friends. What has been your most ‘painful’ edit? Share in the comments and let’s discuss the editing life!
May inspiration flow like ink upon your quill,
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