The second draft of my 17th Century Historical Biographical Novel is finished! – quite a mouthful that doesn’t really say what the book is about does it?
This is not my first novel, therefore I am deprived of the euphoria of having come to the end of a complicated project, because experience tells me now is when the hard work begins.
I have to decide which parts of my masterpiece need to be altered, condensed, or horrors - cut out completely?
What? All those carefully constructed sentences I spent hours agonising over are to be consigned to the recycle bin?
Yup, afraid so – if they don’t move the story forward... yeah, yeah OK I hear you internal editor.
I know the rules, following them isn’t as easy as one might think: As I write, I feel I am creating atmosphere, describing period clothing to give the reader an image, drawing a bygone way of life – but in editorial terms these are ‘backstory’, ‘exposition’, and, ‘laundry lists’
Does the first grab the reader and entice them to want more?
Weeelll . . the first paragraph does- I think.
Does the first sentence help with action to lead the reader towards the plot?
I passed that one – possibly.
Does the paragraph sets the tone, the scene, introduce the character and continue the action from the first sentence?
Hang on, I only have a dozen or so words here, how can it do all that?
Keep thinking action and character development, with pertinent details.
Got this one taped too – well I think so.
Content editing means taking out what doesn't work, and improving what does.
I think I need another opinion on that
Expand on emotion/sensory details and check research for consistency.
OK, I can do that
And all this on top of checking spelling, grammar, punctuation, POV, improve descriptive phrases and replace repeated words.
The good news is writers are individuals and being a meticulous one, I revise chapters as I write and when I receive critiques from my group. So when some writers need six or seven drafts to get it perfect, hopefully I can stop at three!
Finished my manuscript? No not really!