I am worried that I will never reach the end of my edits for my current work in progress. This is not insecurity talking…this is an actual fear. I’m currently on Chapter 5 of the rewrites, having decided previously, after twelve chapters, that I needed to change the whole chronology of the novel. However, after the piece of advice below I’m considering going right back to the start again:
Of course, I couldn’t help myself. I went back and opened my WIP to the beginning of Chapter 2 and realised that, yes, this would make for a much more intriguing opening to the novel. Chapter 1 could easily be reintegrated into a flashback explaining how the new patient arrives at the Unit and meets my protagonist doctor.
And now I want to go back and fix it to be like that.
I know I shouldn’t. Yet it feels wrong to continue on knowing that something earlier is not how I want it.
This is my second attempt at editing NaNo #1 and so far I haven’t made it past the half way mark. The second half of my entire novel still languishes in first draft format while the first third is getting an extensive re-write plus edit after edit after edit. It seems I want to put everything I am learning into practice and am doing so using my first few chapters as the testing ground.
But is this the right way to do it?
There is a ton of advice about writing through the desire to edit for your first draft. You ignore what is wrong and plough on regardless. Your novel wouldn’t get finished if you didn’t at least close your mind off to the possibility that some of what you have written is utter drivel.
However, when it comes to the editing of said first draft: then what? Am I allowed to revise the same chapter over and over again; to start the editing process afresh if I’ve decided on a better way to tackle it; to begin a third time if I’ve had to add another chapter in order to make sure it’s as fine as the ones already written?
Do I now have to adapt the advice on writing a first draft into editing for a second draft? Should I carry on with my rewrites and edits regardless, even though I know I will have to go back and change Chapters 1 and 2 all over again?
I’ve never edited a novel before. This is blatantly obvious. I feel adrift. I want to fix all the problems that I see – and so far I’ve identified a lot of them. But there has to be a more cohesive means to do it than my current technique. I thought I was doing okay, until that interesting bit of advice above opened my eyes up to yet another improvement.
If editing is anything like writing that first draft though, the only thing I know is that I have to carry on.
No looking back.
After all, who’s to say I won’t find something in Chapter twenty-two that will change my whole outlook on Chapter 1?
I would be most appreciative of any advice on such issues – or even just a companionable commiseration shared on such a problematic task. So, please (I beg you) leave a comment if you have any idea (or experience) of what I’m talking about here.
Editing appears to be a process as individual and idiosyncratic as all of the stories told in the millions of novels written and waiting to be written.