I’ve started editing my NaNoWriMo 2011 novel!
I think in the past, I’ve been pretty sensitive about editing. But this year, I’ve been following some guidelines about editing presented by the good people over at NaNoWriMo.
1. Read through the novel, start to finish. Make notes about where to cut, but at this point, don’t make minor changes with dialogue or syntax, etc.
2. Save a copy of your original.
3. Start cutting your editing copy — as Lemony Snicket suggests, “Approach the manuscript ruthlessly, like it is a beloved and difficult friend who has asked to hear what they’re doing wrong.
4. “Cut short and cut long.”
That’s all the advice I have at this point, because that’s mostly what I’ve been focusing on. And you know what, it’s incredibly liberating to finally cut all these long passages that I wrote during NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo was about quantity, not quality, so plenty of what I had was padding — song lyrics, descriptions of locations that I’d never use, notes to myself about further research I needed to do on quantum physics. (seriously)
I’m also toying with a lot of what ifs. As in “What if I cut out this opening, and move this chapter to the beginning? (I’ve always liked this chapter better)” If I don’t like it, I can always put it back. The chapters and scenes I’m cutting still exist in my original draft. There was one scene I wrote about a fishing class at a lake that I knew — I knew as I was writing it — that it would work better in another book I was working on last year.
So I cut that too.