20 February 2017

Don't Avoid the Edits

Do you ever avoid doing something forever because you dread how difficult it's going to be? And then when you finally buckle down and do it, it turns out to be the easiest thing ever? Welcome to my life.

So I literally have on foot in Shiny New Story Land and the other in Editing My Novel City. It's confusing. I shouldn't be doing it. But since both stories are occupying my mind, I figure, what the hell? Go for it. Since most of the time I'm not doing much of anything, I want to take advantage of the sudden surge in creativity.

Last Thursday, I managed to edit Chapter Four of Uneven Lines. I've been avoiding it for quite some time. I can't actually remember when I got through Chapter Three. There was an actual legitimate reason for my avoidance though: MATH. No, really, look. Chapter Four has an actual diagram of angles for a math problem:

Ok, the novel doesn't have Instagram filters (I'm sure that'll be a thing someday, though). But yes, actual math. Here's the thing. I don't like math. I was relatively good at it in high school but I never liked it. And I didn't have to take any math courses in college. So anything that isn't basic everyday knowledge flew out of my brain a long time ago. But I made the fantastic decision to have math be a factor in my novel. Genius, right?? *cough*

So, I thought this chapter was going to be a nightmare to edit. To sum up the chapter, my characters are solving a geometric proof and flirting at the same time (did I mention my book is crazy? I love it). I've always been afraid that it would make no sense to anyone who doesn't have a whole lot of math knowledge (someone like, I dunno, myself). While I adore this chapter and think it does so much for the story, I worry it may not make complete sense to everyone. And that's why I've been avoiding it: I didn't know how to fix it.

Well, when I finally sat down and put red pen to paper, it turns out there really wasn't much to fix. If you look at the same exact scene in the first draft, it is a hot mess. It's just there; it isn't doing anything symbolic or intricate or even moving the story forward, really. When I rewrote it for the second draft, I cracked down on it like a crazy person. I somehow figured out what the scene needed to be doing and made it happen. But somewhere along the way I forgot. Silly me.

I kinda had to trust all the math stuff knowing that when I first wrote it I actually did the work and the research to make sure that actual problem is correct. There are words like "congruent" and "transversal" thrown around in this scene and after being away from it for a while, I'm just like, yeah, sure, ok. Math. Does the reader have to be a math expert to get this scene? I don't think so. I think it's doing way more than just showing you a math problem and that's just what's on the surface to make the scene happen in the first place.

And when I went through every page? Not a whole lot to edit. Some line by line fixes. One page had so many instances of the word "So" that it made my head spin a little. I get why they were there; there is a lot of dialogue that starts like, "So now we..." or "So how do we..." Yada yada. But I neatened it up a bit so that they're only there when necessary. My biggest change of the chapter was actually the very last line. Something about it always bothered me and when I figured out the solution I went a little crazy with joy. It was kind of like it had been staring me in the face the whole time but I couldn't see it.

So maybe from now on I won't avoid editing just because I think it's going to be hard. Because chances are it won't be as bad as I fear. Until I get to the last third of the book which needs to be completely rewritten, of course, but I'll worry about that when I get to it...


  1. For the most part I actually like editing but only because I know it means I've completed a first draft. What I HATE though is finding out I need to re-write whole chapters. Like literally delete and go again. It makes me feel like I'm stepping backwards even though I know I'm not. Or more accurately, someone keeps moving the finishing line forward lol!!

  2. That's how it tends to go for me; I put it off and then it never tends to be that bad once I get going. It was certainly brave to include maths in there, I wouldn't because it's a blind spot for me! But a novel is like one big mathematical equation in some ways; making sure everything adds up and all the logistics are there. Of course, characterisation is on top of that. It's funny how changing just one line can make all the difference, isn't it? A eureka moment. Good luck keeping up both your writing and editing!

  3. I often find that the tasks I dread the most are not nearly as awful as I anticipate :)

    Geometry, huh? I don't remember the last time I used those terms in conversation ... but I'm impressed you chose to include it in a flirtatious scene.

  4. Yeah, I've avoided doing something because of the work I thought would be involved. It's usually scene rewrites or a scene I need to add.

  5. I love doing my own edits. The ones I dread and groan over are the ones that come back from my publisher. I always loved math. Don't know how I became a writer.

  6. I'm looking forward to the day that I can sit down to edit my second or third draft and not think they're still a hot mess. It usually requires several more revision before I get to that point. Glad the eidt wasn't as hard as you thought.

  7. I'm not a fan of math, but I do like math equations thrown into books. John Green had a book with a lot of equations in it. I was clueless, but it was fun.