After I finish my book proposal (more on that tomorrow) I plan to get back to making my novel better. Some might think this is backwards, but there are things I’d like to clean up as I wait patiently (all to eagerly perhaps) for that form rejection letter.
When taking gravity, mathematics, and the concreteness of reality out of the way, there are about a billion ways to do just about anything. Here is my bumpy and unproven road towards a cleaner fourth draft.
Step 1: Create Small Goals
When I look back on my novel there is a lot of work to be done. But I plan to approach these corrections and tackle them like I remodeled me house, one room at a time. If I were to read through for grammar, characterization, plot, and other errors simultaneously, I would immediately become overwhelmed by the plethora of mistakes. So I plan to read my novel several times to sweep over each one. Also, I will to do a simple read through taking notes first, before I do any hacking and whacking to my manuscript.
Step 2: Create A Plan
Not only can the writer/editor become overwhelmed with the mistakes that have been made on an early draft of a novel, but it can be nerve racking knowing just where to begin. I plan to print of my manuscript three chapters at a time and each night before I go to bed, simply read through 5-10 pages. 400+ pages can be a lot of work, but if I were to get on a role and finish 10 pages a day for a week, there’s 70 pages right there. And that’s not to mention lunch breaks at work and the occasional morning where I might have the energy to get up and knock out 5-10 pages.
Step 3: Identify Areas of Improvement
As I do my casual read through, while scratching some notes, I plan to identify areas of improvement. For instance, if I have inaccurate descriptions, if I forget a character completely, if a whole scene needs to be rewritten, a new scene added, or, as William Faulkner say if he were standing over my shoulder, if that little darling part needs to be killed.
Again, as I said at the beginning this is not a sure-fire way to edit. I don’t think there is. I think there are formulas we can use that might help, but it is what fits the writer best. The most important thing for me is figure out a system that works, and to do it.
One word at a time.