So I’ve finally started to revise my Novel In Progress—I know it’s about time, considering it was a 2012 goal! Over the past few days I’ve been re-reading the manuscript—just reading it, not actually editing it—and thinking about the notes I took during drafting and contemplating the larger issues. I’m scribbling notes in the margins of the NIP, just the big variety kind: “This part sucks,” “This section doesn’t make sense here,” “Need to add foreshadowing of X here,” etc. I’m half way through, and so far, I’ve noticed two things. (1) The beginning is pretty good, but could be stronger, and (2) the middle is lousy so far, but I see why, and it’s fixable. Not terrible news, so that’s encouraging.
I knew going in that first half of the middle section of my NIP was weak; when I was writing the draft, I wasn’t sure what needed to be there. I think I found my way again in the last half of the middle, which I will soon confirm (or not) because I’m just now getting to that part in my re-reading. Knowing specifically what happens in the last half of the book has been a real help for figuring out where the problem are.
Even if they don’t realize it, I’ve gotten a lot of help from my writing group, Hopefull Monsters. We’re reviewing a novel by another member, and just the act of reading and thinking about that novel at the structural level has been helpful as I begin my own edits. (It also helps that my novel is suppose to be next for critique.) I’ve been looking at why I think parts of that novel do or don’t work, and I’m taking that experience and putting it to use with my own NIP. Only time will tell, but hopefully my manuscript will be stronger for it.
It sounds simple, but I think it’s a good idea that you are just reading to see what you have. A lot of us (well, maybe it’s just me) will get to the end of the first draft, zip back to the beginning, and start fixing without knowing what needs to be fixed.
I edit my short stories that way (after a few days break to get some distance). For shorter works, I can keep the entire story in my head. It also helps that I generally write short stories in a lot less time than the novel, so I don’t “forget” as much of what I wrote 🙂
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