Wow. My previous post was prophetic or something. I finished my edits yesterday! Just in time to come back today! It’s a fabulous feeling and I really think the story is stronger. And I know it will only get more so when my editresses dive into the full tear-down with me at the beginning of the year. My next project while I wait for my critique partners to get back to me with notes is to start fleshing out the vague outlines I have for books 2 and 3 of The Dream War Saga, but for the next couple of days I’m just going to let my brain rest and enjoy the accomplishment of achieving what seemed impossible a couple of weeks ago.
Maybe it’s because this is my first guided edit, but I feel like I learned a lot from this process. I have a feeling this is going to be the case with every edit on every book for the rest of my (hopefully) long career, but it’s especially impactful right now because this is the first. In honor of this, I’m going to talk about some of the revelations I had and lessons I learned while trying to be as vague as possible and leaving out any details my editors may hurt me for sharing without their permission. 😉
Lesson one: Even the most overwhelming projects can be tackled if you break them up the right way. What’s the right way? No clue. For this particular edit, the right way involved creating a new file and only keeping the chapters that I knew weren’t going to change much. This is when I started freaking out because I watched my book drop from 96,000 words to 27,000 words. As scary as that was to see, there’s no way I could’ve made headway on this edit as fast as I did any other way. If I’d kept the original and tried to work within it, I would’ve been trying to fix what’s there instead of reworking it to fit the new structure.
Which brings me to lesson/revelation number two: Say you decide to take out a major part of your book. You go back through the story, take out everything related to that part, reread the book, and then realize the story isn’t that much different. Does this mean the part you thought was so major wasn’t actually that important or did you do something wrong along the way? O.o? Honestly, I’m still wondering about this one. I guess I’ll see how confused my readers are.
The third thing I realized is that changing the structure can teach you new things about your characters. The request my editors made ended up changing the motivations of one of my main characters. His goals shifted and the way he approached what happens for the first third of the book changed. I love the new beginning and it was really fantastic bringing out this stronger, more determined side of my character. This wouldn’t have happened if the revisions hadn’t been suggested.
And last, but probably most importantly, just go with it. In this revision I ended up with three different versions of the end. Two of these versions extended the book by a chapter and a half. In fact, my word count for the whole book is just over 100,000 now, something I’m worried my editors might not like very much. Hopefully they’ll like the changes so much that the word count won’t even matter. I can hope, right? But that’s not the point. The point is to go in the direction the revisions take you, even if it’s slightly out of the original reach of the story. If it’s going to change your book completely, you might want to talk to your editors before running with it because otherwise it could end up being a lot of wasted effort, but don’t discount the idea out of hand. Don’t change for the sake of change, but sometimes, change is good.
So, that’s all for now. I’m going to take a break from the book for a few days and spend some time working on a couple of other projects before diving into my outlining for the rest of my series. Hopefully I’ll also be back to my regular posting schedule, too. I found a few articles I definitely want to share, so look for snippets and links this week.