You have a story. It's written. Now what? You've got to edit it. Editing is where all the magic happens. Where ideas become real, where caricatures become characters and where a story becomes novel. This is a blog about how to edit, about the editing process.
The Idea Began
You never know quite when an idea is going to arrive. You don't know where an idea will arrive. Ideas, they arrive when you least expect them, just before bed, in the shower, when you’re on a run. Same goes for the urge to write. The urge to write arrives when you least expect it; though, usually for me, it arrives when I am nowhere near a pen or computer (usually it happens when I am driving).
I've been mulling around actually writing a blog about the writing process for a little while (here the term “a little while” means 5 years). But I decided to instead write about something that is not about writing, instead, I want to focus on the most tumultuous aspect of the writing process… the editorial process.
The dreaded time spent after writing, when you know that you have had quite enough of your book, that however hard you stare at a sentence you know you'll never actually edit it, and that as you stare at the page you feel this deep feeling that maybe you forgot to shut the stove off... and then you walk off and never actually finish anything and forget to check the stove.
Which is why I decided to write about this process because I feel not many people actually do write about this process.
And what better way to show off the writing method than to work on editing a novel I have been working on for a long time. This blog will then be about going over different editorial methods, reviewing different skills, different advice… and so on and so forth.
This novel idea—the novel in question—it came to me on a jog.
The Idea So Far
The idea was simple. The idea was the usual, "what if..." What if you could take a piece of art, let's say a Picasso or a Da Vinci and from it pull out the soul of the artist; you could decode their genome from their work and recreate them.
Now we have a world with artists back. Mozart is composing again, Dali is painting, Jane Austin is writing. What then, would this world be like?
And so the world grew from there, a fictional town in Britain, Oxshire. The story would be about a writer, Charles Huxley, who wanted to be a successful writer but just couldn't get anything done. He was in the shadow of his father who was a famed painter. And the story would be about Will Shakespeare, the new Shakespeare built from the work of Shakespeare, who is trying to make his own name.
Let's get them together and have them write.
So the novel is about the writing process; this blog is about the editorial process. This blog is about how to edit. The work will be about writing; the comments will be about editing.
I began writing it with a working title of “A One Act in Three,” and continued into writing it as a short story, then a radio play, then a novella and now, a novel. As usual, I lost traction with writing it. Then there was a contest. The BBC runs an international playwriting competition, the BBC International Radio Playwriting Competition, and I decided to enter my work.
I can’t tell you how long I worked on it. I can’t tell you how much work went into it (a lot of work went into it) how much coffee I had (a lot of coffee I had), or how many sleepless nights I had (many sleepless nights I had). Afterward, the project was submitted and soon rejected. And so it lay dormant.
It lay dormant. Waiting, as all projects do. And then, I worked on it again and turned it into a 30,000-word story, where again it lay in wait.
Anything I create, I take a break. Not by choice. Immediately after writing I always have the intention to complete my work, to go back and edit it. But it sits there in a drawer waiting--sits there on my laptop waiting for me to work on it, to write, to try and do something with it... but it just sits there.
I like to imagine the characters just standing around, looking at their watch. “Where are you mate? We’ve been waiting here for ages.” They're waiting for the final review, the final rewrite, for all the pieces to be put together.
Anyway, that’s what this blog is going to be about. It’s going to be about the editing process. A process all of us could use some inspiration in. A process that requires more eyes than one, that requires forgiveness on your part, from yourself, because I can assure you that mistakes happen. Just as I can assure you there are mistakes here in this post, there will always be some in your work. So don't be so hard on yourself (or me)!
Let's explore writing potential through reworking words into something new.