Edit Pass Live Stage 2: Background Work

So, as anyone who’s following the Twitter will know, I finished the readthrough pass. It took a little longer than I’d like, but that’s how these things shake out.

I’m also sort of glad that I chose this particular book to do the live edit pass on, because hoo boy we’re going to have material for months.

I’m less glad that there’s this much work to be done on it though. When I went into this editing pass, I thought that my main problem was going to be my worldbuilding and description, honestly. I hadn’t had a lot of it in the first draft, and I didn’t feel like the second draft was much better, but I thought that a lot of the expansion I’d done in the plot was going to be fairly solid. This was absolutely and entirely not the case. The worldbuilding is just as lacking as I thought it was, but the other work I’d done was just as flawed as the first draft, only there’s more of it now.

The characters pinball back and forth on a lot of issues. A lot of the conversations feel inconsequential as a result. The pacing is also off, so things come either without setup or at the wrong place in the tension arc and lose their effect. It’s very clear that I really didn’t know what I was going to do in Book 2 with a lot of those characters, too. There’s one particular character whose arc (for this book) finished and then sorta trailed on to start the next arc in the last three chapters. There is also a problem with information control – there’s one section of the world where I don’t really have a viewpoint character, so it’s hard to let the readers know that certain decisions don’t make logical sense because there are ulterior motives that do, rather than because I’ve not realised and left gigantic gaping plot holes, so that needs to be addressed, too.

Oh and it’s full of continuity errors and references to deleted characters and plotlines because it’s all cobbled together from new sections and bits of the first draft.

I said early on that I was probably looking at a rewrite of the first 30,000-40,000 words of the story. I’m now thinking I might almost be staring down the barrel of another full rewrite.

And to think, I was looking forward to this edit pass because I wanted to get towards editing and away from drafting for a while. Oh, well.

However, there is more I need to do before I dive into the rewrite. Unless I want to end up with something that’s just as broken but in new and interesting ways, I’m going to need to do a lot of background work this time, I think.

In no particular order, this is what the next stage of this edit pass is going to entail:

A redo of some of the worldbuilding. Or rather, I’m going to dive into some details that I left out when I was last doing this. I have an idea now of where my understanding was lacking.

I also need to do some character work. I’m thinking of writing a few drabbles using a couple of the characters so I can re-familiarise and get a better grip on how they act and react. Especially one character, whose motivations I never really got a handle on so that they came through.

Then I’m going to need a new story timeline. I reckon I can condense nearly the first 100,000 words down into half that space, and they really, really need it. Then I’ll need to do some fleshing out in the middle so that the end has the right elements in it. I don’t know if I need to bring in another viewpoint character, or if I can spin it so that the lack of information on particular parts of the story is a virtue rather than a fault, but I’ll know that once I’ve done a bit more planning.

I want to try and get this done in the next couple of weeks, but we’ll see how that goes, as usual. Worldbuilding is hard to judge the time of, because it’s the place where I find myself most often waiting for those flashes of inspiration rather than being able to muscle through on habit, like I can with drafting and editing.

In a while I’ll post up a checklist of each of those sections. I’ll post up the worldbuilding questions I want to answer (spoiler-free, obviously!), and a list of the characters who need the snarls worked out. I won’t post up the timeline of the story because that’s just going to be one big spoiler from start to finish.

Twitter will include some worldbuilding notes, progress reports as usual, and maybe some quotes from the process as long as I can find some that aren’t spoilers and will actually make sense without surrounding context.

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