It’s a Wrap! Who’s Ready for the Sequel? (Editing Diary 9)

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.

You’ve read it right… I’m done with this phase of editing the novel I’ve written for NaNoWriMo 2019. In a way. More below the actual final diary part.

Day 56, July 7th, 2020

Only got a page in before I had to concede that this particular scene requires my full attention, which I’m too tired to give right now. Still—we’re moving in the right direction!

Day 57, July 8th, 2020

I have such hopes and such dread for today’s session. To quote my favourite emperor – let’s see what happens.

I am once again reminded of the difference between light editing—which I’ve been doing for the better part of the past two months—and actual messed up scenes, which I’m now in the middle of. One round of edits in this phase is not enough for scenes like this. Why do I suck at plot so much? (Oh, because architecture and shipping.)

It’s incredible how emotional I am over a stupid ending of a stupid book. It’s making me feel like this session is taking way longer than it actually is.

Chapter 20 done. I did say the final few were short.

Day 58, July 9th, 2020

Nobody’s perfect.

Day 59, July 10th, 2020

Thus it begins… the great battle of our time.

I can’t remember hurting this much or this often in the previous novels I’ve written (although I do remember suffering through one of the final scenes in Werewolf Novel no. 2). I am most definitely going to take that as a good sign.

It’s 10:45AM on a Friday, and I’m about to open the last last chapter of Johnny’s Girls. My beta partner had just sent me a few suggestions about how to make my characters at least a bit suspicious. Since this is a murder mystery. As far as things go, she did manage to guess the perpetrator, although late enough in the story for me not to feel too bad about it!

It is now 11:10 AM, and… I’m done. The first revision is done—on day 59, no less! *cackles maniacally* I’m going off for a while now. I’ve got a hot date with a llama jigsaw puzzle.

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That’s all, folks! I took a week off from working on the novel, that’s why the (khm slight?) delay with this post, too. I worked on a short story last Wednesday, but mostly it was reading, social media, and doing my finest couch potato impression. It was totally worth it.

What I ended up with

Compared with what I started with, I ended up with cca 3,5k new words (so far), and a slightly higher average chapter length (3,1k as opposed to 2,9k in the beginning). (Look at me, being all official and stuff!) I’ve god one chapter with almost 6k words, which is new, and the final two chapters are still the shortest ones. Only two chapters got merged, #3 and #4, which is less than I’d anticipated. Overall, the pacing’s a bit slow in the first third of the novel, but I’ll live. It ended up at 71574 words total, which is awesome. (My drafts have always been on the shorter side, alright?)

Is it truly over?

Nope. I’m now trying to finish the short story collection I’ve fallen in love with during the XX week of editing Johnny’s Girls, and then I’ll take a week or two to go back through the copy and see which comments by my awesome beta reader/partner I can implement. Luckily, she said the novel worked! What didn’t work, though, were the above mentioned side suspects. There are a few scenes, mostly dialogue, I’ll have to expand, following the advice she gave me. Ever grateful.

Lessons learned

Accountability is the shit. I cannot stress this enough. I wouldn’t have done this in just under two months were it not for this post series! Thanks for tagging along, it’s really appreciated.

Small fragments of time count, but the big ones have the most impact. I regret starting with a paragraph here, a paragraph there, as I did—but my mindset and overall life workload back then was a bit heavy. Either way, the last few days (weeks, even), when I could spare the most time for editing, were the best.

Concentration is underrated. Sure, I can edit after nine o’clock if necessary (I’m used to getting all the worms, yessss, precious), but if I’m in the middle of more complicated scenes, emotionally or plotwise, nope. I need to give it my best. I’m not sure why that came as a surprise—I tend to write best when I’m awake and emotionally fully available, but still.

Skipping days can actually help! As long as it doesn’t become a habit, right? I was so afraid to skip even one, and I ended up (goes back to count) skipping eight days total! I’m truly sorry to say this, but skipping days actually made me concentrate better later.

Habits are habits. The more I edited, the less work it took to convince myself to edit yet another day. Once you get going, keeping it up is easier. (Yeah… even with skipping days.)

Writing in your second language is manageable. What? It truly is. You just need to be patient with yourself, take note of every word your text processor highlights to understand whether you’d done something wrong, and read in the language you’re writing it. Read a lot… and did I say to be patient? Do!

I don’t actually hate editing. There! I said it. I’m just gonna leave it at that. There are still a few things to be learned from the past two months of my life.

There’s still a lot of work to be done. I’ve kinda sorta commissioned photos for the cover, and I’m awaiting those right now. There’s the second pass, too, which I’m about to start any day now. (Just not, you know, today. Or tomorrow. Next Monday perhaps?) This week I took off was more than necessary, all in all. I didn’t predict having to recuperate from editing, but the very idea of not having to edit on any of the past few days was… beyond words. Sure, I had a guilty consciousness almost the whole week through, but… I’m kinda sorta back among the living today. Worth it.

And then there’s the whole ordeal of writing the sequel. I’m too tired at the moment to get excited over it, but I’m so, so happy to be able to go back to these characters. They ranked pretty high among of my favourite ones from all I’ve ever written. I’m lucky enough to have a manageable second draft of the first story with them as leads.

All in all… 10/10, would edit again. See you on the other side of the next round of edits!

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Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash.