Everything’s Easier With a Little Plot (Editing Diary 8)

Welcome back to the weekly series where I note the ups and down of editing my queer dieselpunk (murder) mystery! Read the first post in the series here.

Day 50, June 30th, 2020

It’s day fifty. Shit.

Didn’t open the novel at all until 8PM, but I did write two new posts for the blog earlier today. So there’s that.

Revised a full scene in a little under an hour, and that’s it for today. If it were NaNo—and if I were writing instead of editing—I would probably take a short break now and continue marching on. Lesson learned: next time, I’ll have to make up a challenge of some kind. Accountability here helps a metric ton, but I know I can do better than this. (Don’t we all?)

Day 51, July 1st, 2020

Oh, the wonders of editing dialogue. It’ll come as no surprise when I note that issues with too long sentences apply in my dialogue writing, too, right?

Uh, oh. I just used ‘exclaimed’. It matches the character so well, dammit…

And now I had to google ‘exception’ because, for one reason or another, I can’t seem to remember the stupid ‘c’ when it comes after a logical ‘x’. Oh, well. That’s what spell checking is for.

The end of chapter 16 made me go “YES, FINALLY!”, aloud. Yes yes yes yes. Oh, my wonderful, dear friend, the Actual Plot. Everything’s easier with a little plot.

Day 52, July 2nd, 2020

I’m falling asleep due to some (business) discussions I’ve just had, but it’s all for the greater good. I was honestly surprised to see I’m opening chapter 17 today. For hell’s sake—it’s already been almost two months!!!

Got almost two pages in before my eyes started hurting, hurray.

Day 53, July 3rd, 2020

It’s too early for this shit. (It’s 6:45 AM.) But the weather is so awesome for writing—think mist and clouds and it’s still summer and it’s both weird and crazy encouraging at the same time—and I don’t have the capacity to start anything new, so I guess I’ll… edit?

Also, yesterday I listened to a podcast about self-editing. And, weirdly enough, I’ve once again confirmed how far I’ve come. I don’t do several rounds of heavy edits anymore. (I truly prefer writing to revision.) If there’s a problem with my major plot structure, most of the time, the solution for me is to write the next novel, and watch out for similar problems. Sure, the next novel will have new issues—like the fact that I’m writing villains for the first time in my life after a quarter of a century of doing this—but my plot structures do get better with time. Still, Johnny’s Girls is the first time I’m doing a crime plot, so—a completely new set of plotting issues. But, all in all… I’m kinda comforted by the fact that the next novel in the series will be better. Yes, I know how illogical it is to leave a first novel of a series just ‘okayish’. But I can live with it—and my beta partner doesn’t hate it in the slightest, so far, so there’s that.

If I accidentally made myself cry by a small detail I wrote in the story, that’s a good thing, right?

I marched on through chapter 17—it’s got one of my favourite scenes, after all, the one with my favourite side character—and I think I can actually afford to do something else today. Like, dishes. Or… chapter 18…?

Ps. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you how many occurences of ‘simply’ and ‘quickly’ met their untimely death in my dialogues today.

In the end, chapter 18—at least it’s first scene—won. Go figure.

Lo and behold, there goes the second scene, too! But now I really need a break. When I devote bigger chunks of time to editing, it seems that my brain desires rest after every scene. It’s… not even a issue, just an interesting new feature of my editing process.

I finally gave up, but I glanced at the end of chapter 18 and holy fuck we’re already there! But, since we truly are already there, I started thinking—why do I even have five chapters more?? I scrolled for a few minutes through the remaining chapters, and realized they were so short, and, as such, won’t pose a pacing problem. Will have to think whether I could bring a few together, tough. We’ll see.

Day 54, July 4th, 2020

Found a gem mid-chapter 18: Just to learn that they were, indeed, on emergency lockdown. For plot reasons! Not a pandemic! Gaaaaah! The joys of editing last year’s draft…

Oops. Found no less than two short scenes, one right after the other, where conversations are relayed rather than portrayed. If you need me today, I’ll be writing out people actually talking to each other. Still, I count myself lucky—my first (published) novel required several heavy edits of that sort. In Johnny’s Girls, I think this is only the third such occasion? And the things I need to add are truly short, so—lucky.

Oh, I have such ideas for the sequel.

Oops. I’d forgotten why X happened in the first place. Not I have to actually scroll forward to find out…

Okay, the first scene which needed more words ended up 562 new words of dialogue long.

Day 55, July 5th, 2020

Life happens. So does exhaustion.

Day 56, July 6th, 2020

Chapter 18 is going to be my demise. Added 640 words in the second problematic dialogue spot, and edited the following short scene, too. But now the chapter is almost 6k words long, and I’m not sure how that’ll translate in the reading experience. I’m now sitting right at the spot before the biggest shit in the novel happens. I should really try to get to the end of the chapter before my shift at work today, but I’m already beat. And I’m stuck at the fact that this is my first (true) mystery novel, and it shows.

But, right now, right here, close to the end of chapter 18… it doesn’t feel impossible, nor as bad as I remember it being.

Point: even with little to no experience with writing mystery novels, if that’s what your heart desires, well then, dammit, listen to what the song says!

In other news, I am once again reminded of THIS post from last year NaNo marathon—the fight is still real—as well as how freaking much I want to write the sequel to this novel already. So close. So far. 2020 truly is something else.

Took an hour and fifteen minutes break, and I wouldn’t even be going back into the chapter if I wasn’t so damn ready to get it over with. Today could possibly be the hottest day this year in Croatia, and my brainpower is not what it usually is.

I’ll live.

I’m not sure if it will translate to the readers that this exact part is a bit slow because of the dramatic buildup—or if it’ll just seem slowly. Oh, the wonders of having a beta to ask for almost instant feedback!

Just realized I still ship the hell outta my main couple, yes, thank you, moving along.

And that’s a fucking wrap on chapter 18. It was about time, too—I need to get going if I want to have something to eat today.

Whoa. Just… whoa. This feeling, right here, it one of the (many) reasons why I write so much.

Perfection of creation indeed.

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Photo by Xi Wang on Unsplash.