So… that novel I finished in November? The one I was going to start editing in January? Well, it’s nearing mid-March now, so I’ve started digging my teeth into it. Really, though, I just got a nibble before I realized that I have a lot of background work to do.
I need to figure out what the characters look like. I need to decide on some of their personalities (because a few of them jump a bit all over the place through the story), and what their pastimes might be. Background information that will help me to write them as richer, fuller characters.
I also need to figure out the plot of the story. Not the basic plot, I have that — I know the key points, and where they happen. But the little pieces, the subplots and building scenes — I have some of them that I’m not sure where they belong. A few of them may not even belong in the story, simply serving as helpful (and necessary) background. I had this entire story plot, but my November writing strayed from it (pretty much entirely in the beginning parts of the story) and now I am left with bits and pieces of scenes and a need to figure out where the story starts.
So, where do I start? Where do I start in digging into this monstrous project? Where does the story itself even start? I’ve spent the better part of the month on the character sketches — because it seems like something that needs to happen regardless of how the story ends up being told, but those are nearly done and now… now I need to dive into the pile of words and scenes and see if I can make sense of it all.
This is uncharted territory for me. I’ve never revised a novel before, usually I finish the writing in a linear fashion and then just set it aside. And, honestly, it’s been years since I’ve even done that. I think, ultimately, this approach of writing different scenes not-necessarily in order will serve me well, but facing the daunting task of making sense of it all is… well… daunting. I know that I want to have good progress on this by the end of April (so I can let it sit, or perhaps even send it to an early reader, for a month before I dig back in), but I need to find a way to push myself to do that.
How do you edit? I suppose the first question is, how do you write? Do you take the linear approach, or do you write up scenes all willy-nilly? And when it comes to revising (not just word-editing, but deep revising) how do you approach it?