Words: The Edit, part 2

Through editing, I’ve breached 40,000 words. Slightly dishearteningly, I noted that after my wonderful writing getaway last year in January, I had reached 35,000 words. Unfortunately, when you start editing and realise that a large chunk of your novel is no longer functional, sometimes you lose 15,000 and have to start the climb again.

Instead of sharing the next chapter with you, I’d like to invite you to share some of the highlights of my journey with me.

everything is connected neon light signage
Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

In 40,000 words, I noticed a total of 26 motifs that all felt like clues I was dropping for the reader – items that might be useful, or thoughts that a character was having. Here are a few examples of what I’ve been working on and what’s still to do(!):

  • I forgot that one of my two main characters had a girlfriend called ‘Jaycee’, from whom she had a set of knuckledusters. Before the edit, she had since not even thought about her, nor had the knuckledusters even been mentioned. I’ve corrected that, but feel like I need to find a use for them pretty quick.
  • I started the book with references to a ton of Mandarin. I’ve since stopped taking Mandarin classes, so this might be a difficult one, but I need to either kill this flavour or splash more in. As yet undecided, but leaning towards the kill.
  • Stephen can draw, and there’s evidence of that in his ‘lair’ and when he visits the Daimyo in chapter 11. Katie is a photographer by trade. She has a camera with her. Why isn’t she taking more photos? Why isn’t she talking about her trade usefully? She also has some 70yo whisky and a phone, which I’ve reminded her of in chapter 10. And her throat implant – which I’ve brought back in chapter 12. (Don’t worry, no spoilers – and I’ve only written that far.) In general I need to remember what people are carrying!
  • There are a couple of traditions of the New World that haven’t been used enough – Crows and ravens for death, bread and beer for greetings. Needs more usage, and potentially more examples of weird traditions if I’m going there.
  • Stephen has a heart condition introduced early on – he also breaks his leg and can’t walk – I’ve had to retrofit the broken leg and I still need to add the heart condition back in from chapter 7-ish. Katie also has a missing earlobe, which has some significance; but this hasn’t really been mentioned since chapter 6…
  • Part of the resistance ran into Stephen in chapter 9 and think he’s called Leon – they may meet again later (or not) but worth noting.
  • There’s some tech that feels relevant – the identity implants (which are being used sporadically, but could do with more, particularly in Stephen’s story-stream), the data nodes (or ‘Hubs’, which I’ve just named in chapter 10), the water membrane, the mechanical bees.

Have you done an editing exercise lately? What kind of things were you spotting?

For now, nothing feels too groundbreaking. The plan now is to write the next 10,000 words (that’s maybe 4-5 chapters) and have another edit break.

Further thoughts include whether I should be splitting the chapters and making them smaller, but when I have a ‘final edit’ I’m sure I’ll haemorrhage a ton of words, so holding fire for now.

Finally, I’ve noticed that the amount I’m writing a week is not enough to get this written in any feasible timeframe, but I’m also acknowledging that I am trying to plan a wedding right now. So, I’ll carry on at this speed until July – then it’ll be time to double the pace!

Wish me luck!


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