On the eve of November 30, 2016, I typed the last few words for my national novel writing month target of 50,000 words for the prequel novel, Silence. Upon the completion of this milestone, I had two manuscripts sitting on my hard drive waiting to be edited. The plan was to take December off, a well-earned break, then dive into the revision and editing process; this was the plan. It was a dream that I had every intention of following. But as Stephen King once said, ‘the scariest moment is always just before you start.’ There’s something so difficult about starting, especially after a long break. I distracted myself with blogging, starting a YouTube Channel, and soon it was halfway through February, and I hadn’t edited a word. The knowledge of 6 weeks flying by and the consequences of pushing back my release date is what motivated me to start revising my novels Silence and Immunity. Yes, the knowledge of a mountain of work building up is the best motivator.
You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned my trip to Oxford. This is because it didn’t happen. I foolishly decided to schedule it just before Christmas. No, laughing! I’ve managed to talk Roland into coming with me. Not that Roland needs too much convincing, but I may have mentioned Harry Potter filming locations. I’ve scheduled my research trip to Oxford for my novel, silence, within the next few weeks. I cannot wait to visit, take photos and share them with you. Conducting research and location scouting is one of the most enjoyable parts of the life of a writer. So, keep your eyes peeled for another novel locations gallery, and I’ll send you a link once it’s up on my website.
Now that my days of procrastination are over, I’ve started to become increasingly aware that I can write quicker than I can edit. At the end of a revision and editing session, I’m left feeling quite drained which I found a little disappointing at first. I now know this is because editing requires the use of my critical or analytical mind. Whereas, writing my novels taps into my creative mind, provided that I haven’t allowed my creative well to run dry. So, in short, I can write fiction for hours on end, but I cannot edit for hours on end. A little frustrating.
My Revision and Editing Process
One of the reasons, I kept putting off revision and editing was I had convinced myself I had no idea where to start. As a result, I became overwhelmed by all of the aspects of editing a story. This lead to, today becoming tomorrow and distracting myself with other things. I eventually created an editing checklist that I call The Heavy Fiction Edit. Yes, it’s just as it sounds, in-depth.
To make editing more manageable, I edit my novels in stages; nine stages to be exact. Each time, I read through my manuscript and pay attention to a different story element each time. The reasoning behind paying attention to one element at a time is to ensure I don’t overlook an important element of the story. At the end of the heavy edit, I have a long list of editing notes to assist in writing a revised draft.
These are the story elements that I pay attention to as I read through my novel:
- Overall impressions
- Plot and pacing
- Conflict and tension
- Voice (Writing style)
- Line edit (a line by line grammar and spelling edit)
Along the way I do complete a series of revised drafts; four to be exact. These drafts are written after the following stages of the writing process:
- Conflict and tension
- Characterisation edit
- The voice edit
- Line edit
From here I plan to enlist Alpha and Beta readers. These readers will help provide feedback on the story from the perspective of a reader before I send my book off to a professional editor. I super excited to get to this phase of the publishing process. I’ll keep you posted about this as I get closer to the end of my heavy fiction edit process.
About Abscess (Book Two)
In other book writing related news, I’ve started outlining the next book in the series, Abscess. I came up with the idea for this book back in September 2016, while visiting Roland’s parents in Poitiers, France. This time around, I’m paying more attention to the outlining of the book and in particular story structure. I’m also trying to resist the urge to write and edit my outline a few times before I start writing the book. The reason behind this is to ensure, I don’t leave any massive plot holes in the book, and the story follows on innately from Immunity. It’s at this point where the usual write’s doubt sets in. I’m becoming a little worried that Abscess might be too similar to immunity but, I am a classic over thinker. And, thanks to prior experience, I know this is just doubt.
About Vertigo (Book Three)
I’ve also started brainstorming ideas for the next book in the series after Abscess. It’s working title is Vertigo. I thought of the title long before I had a synopsis. The inspiration for the book’s title also came from my personal struggle with Vertigo and the spinning sensation that often plagues me when I’m at great heights. I have fond memories of climbing the creepy steep stairs of St Peter’s Basilica while trying not to have a full-scale panic attack.
Vertigo was originally going to be the next in the series after Immunity, but it’s set around Christmas time which left a huge time gap. As a result, I got the idea for Abscess, which fills the gap and flows on from Immunity, and is important to future story lines. I’ve already planned out the final scenes of this book, and I can’t wait to write the epilogue. I feel that James Lalonde finally gets one up on his arch-nemesis, Alexander Harper Thompson. James reaches a point at the end of Vertigo where he finally discovers a way to even the playing field, which does raise the stakes. As a writer, I’m trying not to be too merciless with my characters because on some level they feel like my children.
A personal Update
In other news, I’ve been busy planning my wedding. Roland and I have decided to get married in Australia. So, I’ve been busy planning everything that’s involved with a destination wedding from cold and grey London. We’re planning a vacation at the end of March. I’m looking forward to seeing sunlight. For those of you who don’t live in London, the rumours are true; it’s grey and sunless at the moment.
Happy reading, book lovers!