I finally finished my first manuscript of a fantasy novel I’ve been working for almost a year. I learned many lessons the last time I worked with a manuscript, one is that finishing the first manuscript is only a small step in achieving a readable book. Numerous rounds of editing and revision come after this, and they can become endless. They are not the nicest part of writing a book, at least not for me.
Last time I learned that before going into heavy editing, it is better to have a manuscript that you like, one where you feel satisfied with the story, the plot makes sense, you like the characters and they are likable. I learned that you have to be happy with what you wrote. You will need people who read your work, people who will criticize the plot, the characters and tell you how does the story feel. You will probably get lots of suggestions and you might need to rewrite chapters a couple of times more. Last time I understood there was no need to get into heavy editing if you were still working on the story development.
But for the first round of people who will read your work, you have to have a manuscript that is readable. This is the reason I felt I needed one round of revision for plot consistency, character check, setting description, and at least decent writing – a writing that will still be workable and can , of course, be improved.
I’m not going for restructuring sentences, changing verbs, or more in depth editing, but it is still taking time. A lot of it. Somehow my first manuscript has managed to end with around 110 000 words or around 410 pages, and even though I’m doing a “quick revision” it still takes time. I still have a full time job and other activities, but I’m trying to find at least one hour a day to work on this. In an hour I usually deal with 5 or 8 pages, which means it is taking a lot of time. I told a friend I would be giving her the book for her critique around February, but it is already March and I haven’t reached the middle of the book with this “quick editing.”
However, the writing process works this way, there is no easy path. Each day I’m a couple of pages done. A couple of pages more than yesterday, one paragraph more than before. I feel like doing tiny steps, but at least the steps are being given. And If I’m a couple of paragraphs done each day, then I guess it will come a time when I will finish the manuscript. One paragraph at a time. After all, writing is about the process itself.
And you how do you deal with rounds of editing?
2 thoughts on “One paragraph at a time in a never ending editing process”
I’m involved in the very same process. I’m in the revision stage of my first novel. And much of what you say is absolutely true. I’m working on what I have called a “readable draft.” So your remark, “But for the first round of people who will read your work, you have to have a manuscript that is readable.” made me want to stand up and cheer.
I do have more time in that I’m retired from a teaching career. I get up at 4:00 every morning and write for about two or three hours and then a bit more after my wife takes off for work. The first draft came to around 120,000 and with my re-vision and re-writing, the novel has grown to 140,000. Sigh. What has happened is that I literally deleted characters here and there but created new chapters, so my “revision” includes first draft stuff that has been merged into original material and on and on it goes. 🙂 But at this stage, I’d rather have too much, than not enough.
I think you’re on the right track with your discipline to write every day no matter what. I think that is essential. So good for you! and keep moving forward. It will happen!
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Thanks so much Paul! reading your comment definitely encourages me. Even though the path is hard, I love that we’re here to support among writers 🙂
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