Scorch City’s release date — August 30 — is fast approaching. In the meantime, I’m working on final edits to the manuscript for my third book. Editing is, in many ways, more important than the actual writing of the first draft (at least it is for me). I feel a certain freedom when I’m writing the first draft because I know that everything except for the very best parts will inevitably be rewritten, possibly multiple times. So the first draft is really about getting everything that I have in my head on paper.
My sense is that it is difficult to figure out the mindset needed for effective editing. For one thing, you need to be able to look at what you’ve written at both the large scale (plot, character arc, etc) and the small scale (chapter, paragraph, sentence) and be willing to make sweeping changes if you need to. Sometimes, particularly in the large scale, this means getting rid of writing that you might really like, either because it doesn’t quite fit the story or it slows things down or whatever. It’s not fun, but it’s the kind of choice that you need to make to end up with a solid end product.
I find that editing for pace is hard and rely on my agent and editor to help me out there. It is the classic can’t see the forest for the trees problem where I can’t get a handle on how things flow because I’m so focused on each individual piece.
I edit exclusively on paper and type the changes into a word document. I’ve looked into tablets a little to see if I can do the same kind of editing using a stylus on an electronic file, but the resolution and clarity of the stylus writing isn’t good enough right now to make that feasible. To make matters worse, I end up printing everything out one-sided because I end up writing quite a bit of copy on the backs of pages. I’ve included an example of that in the pictures.
I’ve included images of three consecutive pages (including the back of one sheet) of the manuscript for my third book with my edits. These are fairly heavily edited and all 560-some pages don’t necessarily look like this. You probably can’t make out the actual words, but I think it gives you a sense of the degree of editing that goes in, even on a third or fourth draft.
If you are reading this before August 22, 2011, you can sign up for a signed Scorch City giveaway lottery at goodreads.com.