About a month ago, I hit a bit of a landmark when I put all my chapters, which were in individual files on my laptop, into one file and named it draft 2. It was the first time I had a proper draft novel as such, all in one document, complete with page numbers, headers and cover page with working title.
Better still was when I printed it out. Seeing it in print was quite exciting as, for the first time, I could physically see it in my hands – all 408 pages!
With that large telephone book in hand, I travelled down to my mother’s house a few weeks ago for three and a bit days of revision.
I wasn’t quite sure how to do the editing, what system I should use. I read The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman on the train down, but knew I had to read through all my work first.
That took me more or less a day, I think. As I went, I marked dialogue and scenes to be cut (often large chunks) and wrote down notes for parts that should be rewritten and reviewed. I brought some post-its with me and used those to flag issues at the front of each chapter of what needed to be done.
I felt a bit panicky after that, partly given the sheer scale of work I needed to do and uncertain as to how to go about it.
A major issue that hit me was the number of chapters – a whole bunch of them after chapter 5 – that really were not that relevant to the actual story of the novel as such. They were reasonably good (although needing to be cut) and some I liked a lot. They were about my main characters, but did not directly connect with the plot.
Linked to this, was a problem with pace and progression. So, significant issues. I also had second thoughts about my opening chapter and decided the first scene of that needed to be rewritten.
Having gone through draft 2 in print, I copied that draft and created draft3 on my laptop and started the process of changing. This was difficult and slow – and demanding on the old noggin. I did 10 chapters down there and three more after I came home.
It has definitely been worth it and I feel good about the changes. I have significantly cut my wordcount on each chapter, cutting large sections of dialogue. Other chapters have been significantly rewritten. I did not axe the general chapters I was concerned about, but instead cut them back and linked them more directly with the plot.
Chapter 14 (of 88!) next.