In this week’s instalment of my novel writing journey, I’m thinking about those annoying, wake-you-up-at-3am issues. You know, you’re happily writing away, (or in my case, editing) and something just feels a bit off. But you carry on anyway thinking ‘I can edit that later’. And then before you know it you’re wide awake, staring into the abyss, screaming inside your head.
Let’s set the scene. Your protagonist is doing their thing, tracking someone using their security services issue tracing device which is never to be used in anything other than an official capacity (but hey-ho, she’s doing that anyway), and then it all gets a bit shady and so you decide to highlight the paragraph, make a note in the sidebar and move on.
And then a few weeks later another scene links back to that first shady scene, but you decide to highlight the paragraph, make a note in the sidebar and move on. Because it’s not central to the plot, but is a wrinkle. And you can edit that later.
Repeat, until you have eight of those ‘edit that later’ moments.
Ladies and gents, that ‘edit that later’ time is now. Or rather, for me, it was yesterday. In my initial editing phase, I had still skipped gaily over those ‘edit that later’ highlights because, I could still ‘edit that later’. Here’s the back story. I had made an abortive attempt to completely edit my novel at the beginning of this year. And then Covid happened and everything was chaotic and well, you know. Everybody knows. So I stopped editing and put it all to once side until the last day of August.
So where I am now in my super-charged editing phase is that I am in the final third of my manuscript and I haven’t read this part of my novel with an editing hat on since the end of last year. I don’t know about you, but my memories of the previous year are generally really rather vague, even more so now because, well, 2020. Anyway, on Thursday evening another scene popped up, linked to the earlier eight scenes up above and you guessed it, I had, when I first wrote it, highlighted the paragraph, made a note in the sidebar and moved on.
You might be shaking your head by now, quite possibly rolling your eyes so loudly that I can hear you (yes, I can hear you). Well, nobody is perfect, especially me, although I am making an attempt to be better because… I fixed all of these plot holes yesterday in a four hour stint of get your head down serious work. By the time I had reached the final stage of my normal back-up process (save on laptop (and therefore the cloud), save on pen drive, save on Time Machine external hard drive), I felt accomplished. One small step for Freya, one giant leap for Anti-Virus.
Perhaps I could have gone about this in a more efficient way. Perhaps I could have been more of a planner, less of of a pantser*. I’m pretty certain that I’m in that hybrid plantser category – you know, plan a bit and wing the rest of it. My novel started out as a germ of an idea entirely focused on a dis-United Kingdom scrabbling over water and other environmental resources in a climate change situation. That was a long, long time ago. It has evolved. It still does consider the human impact on our planet, it still is set in a dis-United Kingdom (and good heavens I really hope I’m not foreshadowing the future in too much detail), but it is very different from the ‘worthy’ nature of its beginnings and is firmly dystopian because that’s my bread, butter and jam. So, plantser. (I still have the initial handwritten notes I made about this, so I have the proof that I did plan, well, something).
I’m feeling good about where I am with Anti-Virus. Even if it is going to wake me up at 3am again (it probably will). Onwards and upwards!
*For those not in the know, ‘pantser’ as in fly by the seat of your pants. Planning and pantsing is a hot discussion topic in the writing community!