Wednesday, October 29, 2003
I’m still knee-deep in the edits, and you might be wondering what the hell I’m actually doing all this time. Basically at this stage in the book’s life (the end of draft 5), I’m looking for three things:
1) Checking that the edits I’ve put through actually make sense. These were additions to develop a theme that had been underexpressed in the earlier drafts. I was worried these would feel bolted on and not flow with the rest of it, so I’m smoothing them in a little more, and making sure I didn’t just repeat myself half a dozen times throughout the book and call that developing a theme.
2) Repetition edits. These are things that aren’t actually wrong, but just don’t sound so great when they keep coming up. Favourite adjectives (the bland ‘lovely’ in my case) and verbs (’slog’, ‘grump’) keep coming up, and you only really find them if you read the whole thing pretty quickly. Also here are phrases that you’ve used before – ‘the only restaurant in town’ ‘so wet I could feel the water sloshing in my shoes’.
3) General nips and tucks. There are still sentences that could sound better (and there always will be), so I’m polishing as I go along. Sometimes it’s something that I’ve never really liked, and now’s the time to fix it. Other times, I’ve suddenly had a brainwave on how it could be better. I’m also chopping – the book was around 85,000 words in the last draft. I’ve added a few bits here and there, but I reckon I can still get it down to around 81,000 without anyone noticing.
And that’s the thankless thing about editing – the better you do it, the less it looks like you’ve done anything at all. It should read like it always had to be that way, but it takes a ridiculous amount of work to make it seem like it was effortless.