Edit, and aids to editing

This morning, which brought the first frost, is to be spent like most mornings for what seems like the last year, revising. No, not revising for exams but revising the structure and content of a novel I thought I’d finished last Christmas. A jolly tale of three deaths in the Warwickshire countryside before the outbreak of the Second World War. I thought I’d got it right. Several re-readings, plus the sterling work of an excellent adviser in the form of a publisher who’s cautiously interested, have highlighted major inconsistencies and storylines that simply don’t work.

There’s an excellent free program called Pro-Writing Aid which helped with all the repeat words and phrases, redundancies, date inconsistencies and so on, but that was only really proof reading. It didn’t find the really serious structural problems, where the plot stalled, petered out altogether or sprung newly formed somewhere in the middle of the novel. It didn’t find the repeat action, where a character tells the same story twice (don’t laugh, it happens), nor did it help when I described a character as not too bright then give her the vocabulary of an Oxford don.

So here I sit, or at least will be shortly, going through the script again, marking even more passages to be moved, removed or rewritten. Wish me luck.

4 responses to “Edit, and aids to editing”

  1. Good luck 🙂 I am working on a novel and its harder then some would think. I’m pretty sure I started working on it about 2 years ago and I still haven’t even finished it. How long did it take you to actually finish the story, not including the proof reading and the revising?

    • It took me about two years to write the first draft of the novel. It started as a writing exercise at a writers’ group but then grew. I, like most people, wasn’t writing solidly, I’d probably do 1500-2000 words a week, usually in one sitting. I’ve now been revising and editing for almost a year and am in the middle of some fairly major revisions after submitting to publishers. One has given me lots of extremely good advice but it is hard going.

      My own experience suggests it’s really important to produce a very detailed outline early on. I didn’t and bother the story and my sanity have suffered as a result. One thing I did do, when I was about halfway through, was identify the various storylines in the plot, write them out action by action on cards, colour code them all, then slot them together so I had them interwoven. I think I would probably try to do this at the start in future.

      Good luck with your own novel.

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