I’ve discovered that editing a contracted book is trickier than editing one that’s not yet contracted.
Notice, I didn’t say harder. Just trickier.
Allow me to explain.
Here’s how the writing process typically works:
– The writer engages in some level of brainstorming
– The writer writes the rough draft
– The writer engages in some level of revising
Usually, these happen successively, which results in a very intimate knowledge of the story. The further we move along in the process, the more deeply we know our characters and our plot. Until we reach this point where the manuscript is complete and ready to shop.
So what do we do?
We send it off. We say goodbye. And we start all over again.
Which is why editing a contracted book gets tricky.
I finished Beneath a Velvet Sky in the summer of 2009. It was my third novel. The one that caught the attention of my agent, Rachelle Gardner. Since then, I have finished two more novels and written the rough draft of a third.
Not only has a lot of time passed since I knew Beneath a Velvet Sky intimately, but three other story lines, three other casts of characters, have come and gone in my life.
Have you ever had a friend, who at one point, you knew incredibly well? But then you lost touch and time passed and you made new friends? And then you run into this old buddy at the grocery store or the gas station, only to discover you don’t really know each other anymore?
That’s what editing a contracted novel feels like. Especially for a debut novelist.
That’s one of the reasons I believe the editing process for a contracted novel is so intense.
My editor asked me some deep questions about my hero and heroine. Questions to which I no longer knew the answers. So not only did I need to dedicate a chunk of time toward implementing the requested changes, I had to spend a considerable amount of time reacquainting myself with the story. I had to regain the intimacy that was lost.
So what? What’s my point in all of this?
I have two, actually.
See that picture up top? Save your work.
Character sheets. Back story information. Outlines. Deleted scenes. Information about the setting. Research on the characters’ jobs. Save all of it. Put it all into a file and do not delete.
If you don’t create these items beforehand, write them after.
As in, after you finish the novel but before you say goodbye. I know it sounds weird, but consider writing a simple summary of the setting and each main character. Make sure to include important back story information, personality, quirks, fears, and the way the character arcs through the novel.
Seriously. You won’t regret it.
Let’s Talk: What lessons have you learned as you venture forward in this writing journey? Any simple tips you can share that might make all of our lives easier?