Editing - Round One

The most surprising thing to me in the publishing process for The Mark was how much editing is done after a manuscript is sold.  As a first-time author, I'd assumed it would just be minor changes - copy edits, maybe tweaking a few plot points - since so much time is spent polishing the novel before submission.  Not so. These minor changes happen, of course, but they're rounds two or three or four or even later.   Since, I'm in the thick of edits for The Mark's sequel, Vision, I thought I'd post a little about the process.   

Round One.  This is where I am with Vision right now.  For both The Mark and Vision, my editor gave me the notes for this round verbally.  Big picture stuff.  For The Mark, it was things like making Cassie, the main character, younger, speeding the pacing, reworking the ending and more that I'm forgetting - or blocking out.  For Vision, it's eliminating about seventy-five pages from the beginning and writing a new seventy-five or so toward the end to re-focus the story on a particular plot line.

Incorporating these notes feels a little like knitting a sweater for someone who outgrows it before you're done.  You know what it's supposed to look like.  Some parts of it you can keep, but a bunch of it has to be unraveled, re-knit and pieced back together.

I started Vision's edits at the back end, writing the new scenes.  It took about two weeks of letting my editor's feedback sink in before I started to see how I wanted to develop the story.  Now that part is written and I'm ready to go back to the beginning and figure out how to cut seventy-five by looking for scenes that can be shortened or eliminated to get to the main plot line faster without losing important elements of the story.

Already, I can see how to get rid of about twenty pages pretty easily.  The other fifty-some are going to be a bit of a struggle.  I'll go scene-by-scene assessing each.  Is it necessary?  Can its point be accomplished some other way, by adding a line or so to a different scene?  Can it be collapsed into a flashback or one of those "catch-up" type paragraphs that recaps something that happened previously rather than having the whole scene play out in the story? 

Maybe it'll wind up being less than seventy-five, maybe more.  And some parts of the story that I really like might get cut because, though they may be good, they might not add enough or might slow the pace more than they're worth. 

Once I've re-worked the beginning, I'll read the manuscript start to finish a few times to find spots that feel "patchy" - where the pacing is off or the characters, timelines or voice inconsistent.  Then it goes out to readers before going back to my editor by the due date.  Late-April suddenly feels very, very close.

Then there'll be at least a Round Two, probably Round Three before Copyedits...