I did something a bit unusual today in my editing stint of “The King’s Sons.” Normally I edit through chapter by chapter, scene by scene in the order things come in the novel. However, this morning, I realized that: one, I’m starting a new pass with the beginning, only being two chapters in; two, I’m sick of working with the beginning; and three, thanks to my beta readers, I realized I need to do a number on the novel’s end. (Not rewrite it. Just consolidate and cut a lot).
So, after working with just one small scene at the beginning for a few minutes, I jumped to the end and handled a number of edits I knew I’d have to make eventually. There was a scene just over three pages long that I had an idea to cut completely. I read through it and verified that I was right, it didn’t need to be there, so I got rid of it. There was no necessary information in it at all that wasn’t strongly suggested or outright stated elsewhere. Then I touched on one other change I’d been meaning to make to one of the novel’s final developments. In the process, I realized I could cut a huge chunk of a conversation, which made me really, really ecstatic because I know the novel’s end, the part following the big action scene, is too drawn-out. Then I hit other scenes haphazardly, and every time I decided something could go, I cut it. When I realized I could shorten something, I shortened it. I’m not done with those last sections of the novel–not even close–but today’s editing session was very productive. And very cathartic.
I’m quite proud of how much fluff I got rid of without letting it get to me or feeling defensive about the passages. It’s pretty rare for me to delete an entire scene the way I did this morning. Whether I should do that more often is another discussion and entirely up for debate, but….
I guess after this morning, besides a catharsis I desperately needed, I managed to step back a bit and really see my novel tightening up and coming together. And that’s exciting, because I just haven’t felt that, while editing lately, I’ve seen much payout for all the work I’ve been putting in. It’s nice when that happens and when editing is FUN for a change. Today was one of the rare occasions where I really did have a blast editing. And I didn’t want to stop to go take a shower and handle other obligations. But hey, I’m not yet at the point where I can write all day.
Maybe some day
So, what’s your editing style, fellow writers? Do you ever jump around from time the time they way I did today? Or do you go slow and steady through the chapters?