The Final Final Final Edit

A discussion about the stage of ‘final editing’ on twitter prompted me to create this post. In fact, I wasn’t just prompted to blog, I was compelled to make the whole thing a statement and reminder of what we must go through to get to the end point. The proof of which I present in the mug below.

This shows all ‘new’ writers out there that editing  (and all the zany backed up versions of it) is about as much fun as checking your monthly bank statements. Though it does become a part of our lives, along with drinking too much coffee or tea.

 

Yes I know that I sometimes swear at myself for lying when I tell people I am currently working on the final edit,  when actually I’m just sitting on my phone telling people. I swear, however,  this time, I actually AM getting it done and that’s a fact.

One last thing…

What is the final edit exactly?

Well there never would be one if you didn’t simply decide that you were never going to change the manuscript again.  At some point you have to say.. “THIS is what I’ve achieved and it’s the best I can do, and I never want to read it again unless I am forced to at gunpoint.” That’s the final, final, final because nobody wants to really die after putting in so much hard work. That’s when you either self-publish or sub it along with your query letter and  move on to the next project with momentous relief.

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping Track of Your Storyline

I regularly like to post helpful advice for writers. Here’s a tip I thought of sharing today as I get stuck into the second draft of my fourth novel.

I find this method of keeping track of my FIRST draft really useful. It may not work for you but may work for those of us who can only function when everything is nicely organised.

All writers know that once we have finished the first draft, it is usually in a bit of a muddle. Okay, possibly a huge muddle. Things are happening all over the place. It’s like an encyclopedia of action, plot, emotions all taking place in your head at once, hence, a sheer mammoth of a task to sort out.

This is the kind of outline I do when I’ve completed my first draft.

I don’t edit or change anything until I have written a few story beats of each chapter that I have.

I create a new blank file where I write up every single chapter headed in bold and the name of the narrator (if it changes per chapter) beneath that.

Under each of these Chapter headings I make brief and concise notes of what is happening only in that chapter. (The points highlighted in red are where I am thinking about adding that particular point in on the next re-write.)

Here’s an example:


CHAPTER 4

Charlene visits Jimmy. She confesses how she feels about Michael. He advises her.

Later in the day she bumps into Michael who is no longer angry with her.

He offers to accompany her to the party.

She walks home with him but isn’t sure about it.


That’s it. That is all I need to know about the direction of the plot and what is happening in that particular chapter in the briefest possible way. I don’t want tons of details, flesh and bones of the story. The point of this list is to cut it all down and keep a record of any ‘structural’ changes to the story … and to be clear in my head on what is happening, and most importantly in what chapter it is happening in. 

Trust me, life becomes a nightmare when you need to start moving chapters around. 

If I later add or change a plot point, move or insert a chapter, this list must be updated to reflect my changes. You can always refer to these lists for reference purposes if you prefer to keep backup copies of the changes.

As always, do what works best for you and whatever ends up being the most helpful in getting you past the first messy draft and on to an improved second one.

I hope you find this tip useful in your editing work.

 

7 Tips to Writing Great Historical Fiction.

Are you considering writing a book set in the past? Maybe you’re already writing one and looking for a few tips.

Choosing to write a book within a historical period of time can feel daunting and is definitely not an easy task. There will be a lot of research to get through, and knowing how to correctly balance accuracy with your own fictional tale can be confusing.  Continue reading “7 Tips to Writing Great Historical Fiction.”