The dreariness of editing

I know I overwrite, I somehow just gallop along piling on the words and then later I have to sit back, have a think, and go on a word diet. I think each of us writes in a different way, and that’s the way I do it. It’s part of my process and it helps me properly ‘see’ and ‘hear’ what’s happening on the page. So now my story is finished and now I’m going through it, really getting a feel of the different aspects and the best way to have them fit together, which might not always be the way I’ve written them!

When I finished, I read the whole thing through, jotting notes and correcting obvious errors. The sort of notes I jotted were about inconsistencies, or parts I wanted to rearrange or facts which needed checking such as who did Menton belong to in 1890 and in 1905 – France or Italy – or maybe Monaco? Sometimes I decide to change names – Sandy became Shelly, Pam became Linda, and Darius became Fergus (Darius is now appearing in another story!)

Having done that the next thing I did was to go through and look at vocabulary; for some reason – and I don’t know if other writers do it too, certain words get stuck in my head and I use them far too often. Just, actually, apparently, rather, had to, nice, have a look, anyway, also, thinks that and also – I’m sure I’ll come across others! In a way these are the basics, checking aspects of the plot and characters needs me to be bright and alert… and late at night isn’t necessarily the right time for that! Writing yes, editing no!

Tomorrow I’m going to go through the list I made as I did my first read-through, just little bits to check, ages, descriptions, dates, consistent names, that sort of thing. Then I will follow certain characters – with ‘find’ and ‘replace’ it is so much easier! The last thing I do at this point is to follow each narrative thread:

  • Thomas is researching his wife’s family tree – I need to follow his research to make sure it is in the right order. There are certain threads which I know I haven’t made clear, or go nowhere and need to be tidies up, plus one mystery I realise I haven’t yet solved!
  • the stalker – just ordinary checking for consistency, and there are a few changes I made so I need to check I have remembered to alter everything which needs to be amended
  • the woman with amnesia – again just ordinary checking, that narrative is pretty clear and has a definite conclusion
  • suspects in an abduction – I think I’ve got myself in a muddle here; I used nick-names to begin with and I think that will just be confusing. The characters appear in certain scenes, but I think they need a few walk-on appearances as well
  • the row of houses, one of which holds a secret: this is very complicated but it doesn’t need to be. I must go though every scene involving these properties along the Empire Esplanade and ensure that the reader doesn’t get lost or bored.

When I’ve done all that then it will be endless read throughs again; I have already lost nearly 11,000 words – I want to lose at last that number again, slim down the stodgy bits, cut out the repeats – part of the problem is that my character Thomas tells the story, and he does waffle on! I can give the reader a flavour of his waffle but the narrative should be clear and not tiring to read.

Oh and one more ting… what am i going to call it?

Here’s a link to the other stories in the Radwinter series and al my other books:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden

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