I’ve been hard at work on the edits for The Secrets He Kept for the last couple of weeks. I got some minor edits out of the way first – spelling errors, typos, spacing errors, general things like that. Then I got to work on the bigger stuff.
There wasn’t as much as I expected, at first anyway. But then I’d sent a particular scene to a friend, and was rather surprised at his perception of the characters involved. My initial thought was that perhaps since the scene was out of context, he didn’t have an accurate view of the character. I’d had a few details that I needed to go back and add in some history on to make it more clear anyway, so after I’d done that, I asked him to read the scenes I’d added and tell me if it changed his perception at all. It did, but not in the way I’d hoped. I’m keeping in mind that he’s only getting these scenes, and not the whole story. Context makes a huge difference, of course. But I’m also re-reading it again, and trying to keep a very open mind that perhaps my attempts to convey certain characteristics to these characters have not worked, and they are coming across as the complete opposite of what I was hoping for.
Editing is, I think, the worst part of writing, for me. I love the initial writing itself. Coming up with a plot, a story, scenes, developing my characters – I have a blast doing all of that. I don’t even mind doing the read through to make notes for the edits. The part that drives me nuts is the actual editing – the trying to find ways to fix my plot holes that don’t look contrived. Trying to figure out where to fit in a scene that needs to be in the book, but not knowing where I can stick it that makes sense and looks right. It’s particularly hard when working on romantic suspense, where sometimes there’s lots of fast pacing and action, and I have to figure out where I can throw in a scene that establishes a history or goes a bit slower to build a relationship between two characters.
Writing those scenes (the ones I need to insert in the editing process) is actually pretty easy – by now, I’ve gotten to know my characters very intimately, and I actually find that sometimes it helps me make a scene that appears early in the book even better because I know them so well at this point. But that issue of finding the best spot to put the scene never gets any easier and sometimes I really wish I could just skip over this part.
I think I’m finding it a bit more difficult right now, too, because I have a lot going on. We’ve begun our homeschool year again, so I have a few hours a day devoted to that, plus I have to also take time to develop my lesson plans and things like that. I’m taking a couple of free, online classes, purely for fun, but of course, they still require time and attention. And finding time for friends, family, meals, showers, sleep, and all the rest. Trying to prioritize and figure out what needs to come first and what must be done now rather than later can be complicated. Sometimes it’s not as simple as what needs to be done first, either. There are times when it’s a matter of deciding what the consequences will be of neglecting something. Neglecting my children’s education is, of course, not an option. Neglecting friendships/relationships…it’s an option, but not one I like. The people I’m close to are too valuable to me for me to want to ignore them, even temporarily. Sometimes it seems that editing is the only thing that can take a backseat to other things, but when I come to that conclusion, I still feel guilty, because I wonder if I’m not just deciding that because it’s not my favorite thing to do.
It will get done, though. And I’ve got another idea that’s begun forming. I’m letting the idea and its characters develop a bit more before I do any real work on it – although I have made a few general notes about the plot, and a couple of very specific character notes that came to me that I absolutely did not want to forget.
I’d intended, when I started this, to say that I was probably about halfway done with the edits, but upon further reflection, that might not be quite accurate. I am about halfway finished with the edits I’ve noted. But I’m thinking I might have someone read through the entire manuscript, so there’s complete context, and tell me what they think of it. I’ll want them to give me notes on what their impression of the characters is, their thoughts on the plot, anything they think is missing, or needs to be eliminated.
In the meantime…off to do more work of some sort.