I’m at last in the final stages of editing #SpiritSeekerBook2, my forthcoming sequel to the YA Fantasy novel Wanderling.
Though I can at last see the the light at the end of the editing tunnel, I can honestly say that the entire process has been exhausting. It’s drained time and resources for me and my most trusted beta readers.
Spirit Seeker Book Two is the seventh book I have written. When I say that, people often get the idea I’ve got everything figured out when it comes to writing and editing. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
To demonstrate the brutal truth of editing, I would like to share with you the 6 stages of editing your novel:
1. Realizing you have to reorganize all your scenes
When I write a novel, it’s a bit of a frenzy. I have so many ideas spewing out rapidly that I tend to jump around chronologically in the story based on what inspires me. When I’m in an argumentative mood, I write the confrontational scenes. When I feel epic and invincible, I write the action scenes. When I’m not inspired, I force myself to write whatever scene is next chronologically in the novel.
The result is a jumbled mess that has serious issues with pacing and (sometimes) characterization. The first time I see the novel in this state for editing, I feel way unprepared and overwhelmed.
2. Fighting the urge to just release as-is
When I have gone through and listed all the scenes in chronological order, I have to seriously resist the temptation to slap on a cover and toss my novel out there just the way it is. Because I’m unbelievably lazy.
Nonetheless I know deep down my novel still has gaps that need filled, and I usually muster the motivation to take another look at it and really dive into editing.
3. Beta readers make you feel like a rockstar
When my novel is pretty well pieced together and resembles what I want for the full draft, I release it to my trusted beta readers, including Genevieve Raas. Genevieve and the others offer me wonderfully supportive comments and reactions, making me feel uber talented. This helps me get pumped for another round of editing, and reminds me why I love writing: sharing the excitement of my stories with others. It’s incredible to hear from readers who enjoy your work.
4. Beta readers make you feel silly
Yup, there are moments like this when I go through beta reader comments. Silly mistakes I missed first time around, pieces of information I forgot to include or stated more than once. Places where characters are unnecessarily upset with, or eerily untouched by, the events of the plot. Some of the weak points I saw before, I just hoped I’d get away with it. Other times I completely dropped the ball.
And oh the grammatical mistakes! They pop up at every turn. It makes me wonder how I got through college.
This stage, however depressing it may be, results in scene revisions that truly strengthen the manuscript in powerful ways. I cannot thank my beta readers enough for their insights and support here, and for calling me out when I miss something key!
5. The words on the screen begin to lose meaning
After reading through the manuscript 4+ times at this point in the process, it gets horribly tough to even pay attention to the sentences. You begin to question the impact of what you thought were the most powerful scenes in the book because the words are way too familiar and dull after reading them so many times and agonizing over every verb and punctuation mark.
This is tough to get past. Usually a break is warranted.
6. Rediscovering the joy of your story
Finally, when you go through for final proofreading, the scenes are in order, the gaps and redundancies corrected, and the characterization consistent. You begin to feel that maybe this is your best work yet. You aren’t even finding that many typos because you’ve combed through the manuscript correcting grammar so many times.