Hey everyone! It’s been awhile, I hope everyone accomplished their November goals! I didn’t get around to NaNoWriMo, but that doesn’t mean I’m without a lot of work to edit this month.
The video accompanying this post is me rambling a little bit (okay, for like 11 minutes) about an editing process I call Overhaul Editing. This post is just going to go a little more in-depth, maybe give you direction if you’re still feeling lost. Because let’s face it–editing without a plan is scary.
NOTE: Sometimes you just can’t do this process alone. Self-editing is no joke. It’s good to learn what methods work for you and get good at doing it yourself, but I still fully support the notion of investing in a paid beta-reader / alpha-reader / editor if you have those resources. A second set of eyes can be invaluable!
So where do we start? Why do we start? I started because I wanted to get some more progress on book 2 of Nightwalker, since book 1 is with my trusty editor right now (Amanda is amazing.) I had about 70k words to work off of, and decided to read over it to get back into the “soul” of it all and jump in again.
Guess what? I HATED IT.
I knew it was time for an overhaul edit. What you’re trying to accomplish with this kind of edit is getting a clear view of “The Big Picture.” Most of the time we can’t fix the problem with The Big Picture by touching up sentences and doing line edits. Nope, that’s for when The Big Picture is solid and focused. In order to get there, we have to dig in, rip out, and build a new foundation.
Time to play KEEP OR KILL! Or, specifically, take your WIP and mark it up with “Keep”, “Kill”, or “Change”. I divided up all the scenes I had across chapters 22 through 30, smooshed them into a document formatted with “0.25 margins, columns, and 8pt Arial Narrow font, printed double sided. I bought some gel highlighters and made a color key at the top and dove in.
So how do you play Keep, Kill, Change? You get the concept of circling/highlighting which scenes (or parts of) that you’ll keep, but how do you decide? It’s easy to tell if it’s a problem, but how do you decide to kill it or change it? What’s the fix? Step 1 is to approach every scene with one basic question:
What is the point of this scene?
If you can’t tell, it’s probably gotta go. Or, if you like it and don’t want to scrap it, give it a point. Make something happen that drives the plot, the characters, etc. Sometimes we come up with these neat scene ideas that have fun/cute/intense/whatever interactions between characters and we have to include them! They’re awesome! But do they have a point beyond being a little entertaining? If not, they’re probably going to slow your story down and could be the reason why the scenes before and after don’t connect very well (if that is indeed the situation for you.)
The other issue you might come across while playing this game is, “The scene has a point, but it still sucks–why?” Grab some paper, it’s time to take notes!
You may have a weak, watery scene on your hands. Maybe you gotta kill it, maybe you don’t, but pour over it and try to identify why it’s lacking. Here are some potential problems you might be dealing with:
There you have it. Step 1 of Overhaul Editing – Keep, Kill, Change. Identify problems as you go and decide if they’re worth fixing, or if you should scrap it. That’s all this step is for. Don’t worry about the rewrite just yet–get your thoughts in order first! Step 2 of Overhaul Editing is on the way. Building a New Pyramid!
Time to get to work! AJ OUT ❤