With the help of some 4am starts, a Tuesday night writing race (organised by The Australian Writer's Marketplace) and Susan Bell's book; The Artful Edit, I've braved the first draft editing process.
I imagined the editing process would be neat. Just me, my marked up manuscript and my laptop. Instead it's a strewn mess of research notes, additional scenes, macro-editing notes, timeline, plot summary, an internet connection and my dusty first draft. But it feels good to have it all at my fingertips - literally. It makes fixing things easier and the process methodical, which I've come to understand is how it should be.
For me, editing is completely different to the writing process. When I sit down to write, even when I get stuck all I ask myself is - What happens next? What's my story?
When I'm editing there are hundreds of questions I ask of the text. Rather than the words just tumbling onto the screen, I find myself wading through pages and pages of notes trying to find exact references or character motivation.
I take comfort in Susan Bell's words:
'The editing process is a dynamic one, even when enacted alone. If it isn't reaching into many directions at once, it isn't working.' (p6)
Also useful is her Macro-Edit Diagnostic Checklist (p88-89) that helps you through the questions of intention, character, structure, foreshadowing, theme and tone. With my first novel I filled whole lecture pads answering these questions. With this novel - two pages. I'm hoping that's an indication of clarity - of understanding my story and having everything I need to tell it.