Well, I’m back from my holiday and I only managed to edit around 2,000 words of my NaNo #1 novel. I’m currently about 6,000 words behind schedule. Whilst I was away, however, it gave me time to think and evaluate my editing methods and put into perspective my novel attempts.
First things first, I want to write a great novel.
I don’t just want it to be ‘good enough’. I’m sure that all writers are the same in this regard. We want to do justice to the story that we tell. One of the things I’ve realised is that the novel I am currently editing is just ‘okay’. There is a LOT more work to be done. So much that it almost feels insurmountable.
Secondly, I want to understand the novel I am writing.
I mean this in a technical as well as a narrative sense. I understand my characters, I know why they do what they do. I know the theme of the story I am writing and why I think it needs to be told. But, as yet, I don’t comprehend the best way to have that story unfold or which scenes are crucial and which are padding. I don’t think I have a good enough knowledge of plot points, antagonist tension or dramatic climax as yet to fully develop my novel into that ‘great’ story I want it to be.
Finally, I need to accept the mammoth task that lies ahead of me.
By the time I get through this round of edits my draft will not be ready for beta readers, nowhere close in fact. Instead, I will need to examine the narrative line and break down the scene structure to build the story back up again. Each character will need a defined arc and the way these intercept will have to be explored. I also need to work in some more urgency to the protagonist’s journey – right now he floats around the book and makes a few decisions, but they aren’t exciting or daring enough to potentially hold a reader’s interest. I need to create more ‘oomph’, and that will take more time and better comprehension of the writing craft.
A part of me wants to start over, scrap the current attempt at editing and begin again with new eyes. But, I am half way through the drafting of the story itself; making sure the entire narrative is there; that it makes sense; that the characters are consistent and the goal constant. I can’t stop now. The novel needs this initial once over. After that, then I can bunker down and reassess the approach. Without a complete novel there will be no end product to progress from.
So yes, I enjoyed my time away. It has provided some further distance from my work and allowed me to identify the areas that need more work, a LOT more work. But I’m not daunted. If anything I want more than ever to create that great novel I feel I might be capable of. If it were easy then it wouldn’t be as rewarding or potentially exciting. It’s precisely because it IS so difficult that I feel I must do it.