So this weekend I did something that I never thought I would do.
I printed the entire draft of my novel.
Well, I didn’t print it. I had it printed at Fedex. I got it 3-hole-punched and then I purchased a binder for it to live in. I also double-spaced the draft so I had room for notes and line-editing.
And y’all. Y’all.
I will never not print my first draft of anything ever again.
It’s so satisfying. And not because of any sort of aesthetic, like the feel of the paper or the scratch of the pen, although those things are very nice. No, it’s because I’m not seeing it the way I see every single other part of my day: on the other side of a screen. I don’t find myself going cross-eyed at walls of text. I’m not terrified of cutting and pasting chapters because I think that at that moment my computer is going to crash or Internet demons will steal my words away into an oblivion of deletion.
If I want to move a chapter, I literally pick it up and rearrange it.
If I like a passage, I can draw a giant smiley face.
If I hate something, I can punch it without replacing my monitor.
Try it. Print out a short story or a poem or a blog post. Look at it with a pen in your hand. Really read it. Write on it. Cross shit out. Underline words. Doodle in the margins.
It’s a completely different experience.
So this week I started editing my NaNoWriMo novel.
Y’all. It is a struggle. Ask me to write a billion words and, sure, it’ll take me a while, but I can do it. Like a champ, in fact. Ask me to then edit those billion words, and you will see a girl cry her damn eyes out.
Because it’s not at that point yet where I could conceivably hand it over to someone to work on for me. There are probably a solid 2-3 beginnings. Some people have read segments of it, sure, but if I tried to toss it into someone’s lap, they’d probably get about 10 pages in and go, “Wtf is this?” Thus, I am here alone, wading through my own blah blah blah, trying to figure out what’s there, how it got there and what is staying and what is going.
Also, with what I wrote in November and the prior draft, it’s over 90K words.
Holy guacamole, y’all.
So here are a few things that are working so far, and how I am doing it. I am praying that my suffering will at least do some good for the world if I talk about it. Because I HATE IT.
- Taking notes: right now, I’m just reading. Not editing, not proofing. Just reading. I’m keeping a notebook and pen and taking notes of names, things that are happening, names of places and major plot points.
- Highlight: I can tell there are some things that are not staying or working at all, or that changed drastically in the NaNo draft. They are getting highlighted. Again, I am not deleting anything. I’m just making sure I can see them when I return to this wall of text.
- No judging: this is a hard one. I am trying very, very hard not to judge myself as I work through this. I’m trying to look at this book the way I might a friend’s piece of writing or even a complete stranger’s. It’s helping me be objective, even if it is a huge hurdle.
Do you use any tactics when editing a big piece of fiction? How do you even start? I am very curious, because I keep looking up like, “Am I doing this right?!”