Sunday, November 4, 2012

Editing Pitfall #1

I just looked at NaNoWriMo Pitfall #4 and realized this early in the month is too early for that.  It's more of a mid-month thing.  So the NaNo Pitfall posts will resume on 11/15.  Keep writing and if you need a reminder of the first three pitfalls, I threw them over on the left sidebar.

And since I'm not really writing right now anyway, I thought I'd start what I hinted at in the comments the other day: Editing Pitfalls.

Some of you may be participating in the alternate month of NaNoRevMo (or NaNoEdMo - whichever blows your skirt up).  I'm daring to be different and not technically participating in that.  But I am revising/editing/rewriting right now.

Of course, before November even started I ran into the first pitfall of editing: Overthinking.

About a week after I submitted Djinnocide to the HarperVoyager thing, I sat down to decide which of my older manuscripts was viable enough to submit after I gave it a good scrubbing.  There were quite a few candidates, but I decided to tackle Nano.  (Yeah, fitting choice for the month of November.)

As I've said before, this sucker is a hot mess.  It's huge and ungainly.  Not word-count wise.  More like huge in its ideas and plot points and scenes.  It's a jumble of crap - like a thin woman wearing XXL clothes stuffed with toys.  (Or my purse.)  I have to take stuff out, rearrange other stuff, organize it all and put some other stuff back in.

Anyway, that's neither here nor there.  What we're talking about today isn't the amount of work ahead (that may be for another day).  We're talking about overthinking.

I sat down with the first chapter (or the prologue - I'm not sure) and my trusty notebook/pen arrangement.  And I rewrote it by hand.  Tore it out, set it aside, and rewrote it by hand again.  Tore that out and... well, you get the picture.  The six pages I needed to fix turned into dozens of pages both handwritten and typed.

I wanted everything to be perfect.  I had a set of goals for this chapter and by god, I was going to meet those damn goals - in the most perfect way possible.

Frankly, I was driving myself nuts and November hadn't even started yet.  Halloween night, I was laying in bed thinking about trying to get this thing whipped into some kind of shape by the end of the year and thoroughly pissing myself off.  I almost gave up - again*.  And then it hit me.  I loved my original take on this chapter.  And I loved a couple of the new things I did.  So what I needed to do was just sit down and write the damn thing - using those bits I loved rather than trying to recreate the damn wheel.

And on November 1st, I got that scene rewritten.  Not sure if it's any good, but it's done.  I can move on to the next chapter and see if that's worth keeping.  And chapter by chapter I'll get the damn thing done.  Maybe along the way, I'll determine whether I really need that first bit after all.  Time will tell.  But at least now I'm not overthinking the damn thing so I can move forward.

What about you?  Ever get stuck in the overthinking trap?  You know, that can go just as well for writing new words - so don't overthink your NaNo manuscript either.

*Editing this book is so daunting that I've already given up numerous times.  I will not let this defeat me again.


  1. Constantly! I'm also reworking a story. One I poured 50,000 words into a couple of Novembers ago. It's also a hot, big mess and the story has moved in a different direction. I'm busy trying to decide what bits I can keep. And over thinking. Big time.

  2. OMG! Remind me of this after the first of the year, will you?!? This is DEVIL (I can't even decide on a frickin' title for the dang thing!) This is Caleb's story in the Penumbra Papers. I have to clear it's decks before I can work on books 3 and 4. I want at least 3 written, edited, and ready to release before I go live with SEASON OF THE WITCH.

    DEVIL was written in the month after my mother died, the month after a best friend's father died, a trip to California to close out his estate, and at the end, I was so determined to have a "normal" November that the last bits of DEVIL are...hell, I can't even call them dreck. It's a hot mess of the first order. Thank god for Scrivener. I might actually be able to save parts of it and get it into order.

    On scene at a time. I need to tattoo that on my forehead come January. Thanks, B.E.!

  3. Not editing, as you know, but this smacks me upside the head when I think about all those novels languishing on the hard drive, Lady Bells patiently waiting for something, and the crap I'm writing right now for NaNo. Of course, I am a constant overthinker - it's my nature :(

    Good luck with the revisions, B.E. :)

  4. I am there now, over thinking revisions/rewrites the entire WIP. Over and Over and Over again. I completed the MS then as I began editing I decided to add a character only because I believed it would help the story along. Now, I dug a hole for myself to which I am unable to crawl out from. I am now totally revamping the entire WIP... And then I had this bright idea to enter NANOWRIMO. Yeah, its kinda going down hill from there.

    I wish you well in your revisions :D