Nightmare Novel Editing: Week 1

Image is Fuseli's Nightmare.

Image is Fuseli’s Nightmare.

Pages edited: 170/308
Number of words cut: 1,788 words
Favorite typo: “White power dusted her fingertips…”

The number of words cut is surprisingly low for me, perhaps because I didn’t write this novel during NaNoWriMo, and as a result, I must have been more careful with word choices, because I had the time to do so.

Also interesting was that the first 68 pages were surprisingly typo-free, and then 69 through 72 were full of them. I assume it must have been late when I wrote those pages. Typos don’t frustrate me. On the contrary, sometimes they just plain crack me up. They make editing fun. Remember not to let spellcheck be your editor. That sentence above passes spellcheck.

One of the big things I look for during a first revision is unnecessary passive voice. Or, as I would change it in edits: During a first revision, I look for unnecessary passive voice. 🙂

I’m of the school of thought in which I embrace adverbs and passive voice … in moderation. I believe there are some times that things just are, or the simplest and least pretentious way of putting things occurs in the passive voice. And sometimes, an adverb is the simplest way to state something; sometimes, an adverb or passive voice is most appropriate for the situation. I think these decisions need to be made in context of all the sentences around it. Your sentence choices determine the rhythm of the story, and the rhythm affects the pacing. I’ve noticed that when I write active voice ALL THE TIME, it adversely affects the pacing. (Note: The previous sentence was active, but I paired the second half with an adverb.)

I think it’s worth it to assess each passive sentence and each adverb to determine their necessity, but a person shouldn’t go overboard with enforcing passive voice and adverb usage. Read some of your favorite stories: You will notice passive voice and adverbs aplenty.

For a good list of things to keep mindful of during first revisions, check out this link. Also remember that rules were made to be broken, if necessary. That’s one of my writer policies: Learn all the rules, break when necessary.

My goal for Week 1 was to edit 150 pages by the end of Sunday. I changed font and spacing to 12pt and 1.5 spaces, like most manuscripts. I tend to dislike large line spaces because things read weird and immature that way to me. I think it’s because I’m unable to read in full sentences at 1.5 or double-spaced format. But everything needs to work at that spacing, whether I like it or not, and anything that works at that spacing will also work in single space, so making 1.5 spacing work covers all the bases.

I had planned to finish the weekend with a nice long movie, but I decided to keep doing my revisions instead, even though I had already crossed my 150-page goal. It’s a good sign when you eschew fun to do work. I really do enjoy this novel. The big changes from the original are coming up, though, and I’ll get to see whether I got most of it right the first time. So we’ll also see how much that enjoyment continues.

I anticipate completing the novel edits next weekend, at which point I will start on the query letter, look for agents, and take a short break before attacking the fairy tale remix novel edits.

It’s a good thing I love to edit. Some writers hate it, but I love reading through everything and making it even better than it was before.

This entry was posted in Editing, Horror, Work in Progress, Young Adult and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Nightmare Novel Editing: Week 1

  1. Nicole Bross says:

    I don’t understand not loving editing too. I enjoy it so much, and each time I think of something new I want to chop or change, I get giddy. 🙂

    • I think some people’s creative impulses only extend to the process of getting the story out of one’s head and onto the page. But once it’s there, there’s little creativity (in a literal sense) left. Just polishing. And once a story’s done, the urge to tell the story is done as well. The product is finished.

      We are lucky that our process extends beyond the initial catharsis, especially given that editing is essential in a professional world. 🙂

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