by Mikhaeyla Kopievsky
Recently, I wrote about my experience in drafting the sequel to my debut science fiction novel, Resistance (Divided Elements #1), and promised to share my upcoming experiences in editing said sequel.
So, here it goes – a look into Week One of my editing process.
STEP ONE – REVIEWING BOOK ONE
I haven’t read Resistance since I did the final check prior to publication. Crazy right?
Part of that was because I was terrified that I would read it and hate it; effectively caught in a writer’s purgatory where you hate the words but can’t take them back. But it was also because I had no time to read – my TBR pile of books on my bedside table is already its own Jenga stack and everytime I opened a page I would always feel guilty that I wasn’t writing words instead.
So, last week I sat down and read Resistance. Read it in two days. And (happily) I loved it (and hope I can do it justice with Book 2).
But it wasn’t all recreational reading. I had a purpose here – actually, I had two:
- Identify the unresolved or hinted plot intrigues
- Create a first-pass style list of key terms, phrases and spelling conventions
For those of you playing along at home, this is what I did:
i. Took a deep breath and opened to page one
ii. Read the dedication and reminded myself why I was doing this
iii. Read the first chapter as a reader – no pen in hand, no keyboard in reach
iv. After the initial read-through, wrote down all the plot intrigues – all those hints of conflict, the developing complexities, the world-building points of interest.
I can be pretty left-brain at times, so I used a spreadsheet: the first column for the chapter number, the second for the plot intrigue, and the third for whether it was resolved by the end of the book (fully, partly, not-at-all).
For example, in chapter 4 we see Anaiya (the protagonist) playing a time-wasting / tactical-sharpening game on her wristplate. The game is faintly reminiscent of Solitaire. It was a nod to the retro days, but it was also a reminder that not all technology is ‘new’ in the future. It’s the 21st century and I still use a strangely shaped piece of metal with a fine-toothed wheel to open cans, I still use a metal key to open my front door, I still check the mailbox to find paper letters from companies who want my money, and I still occasionally use tiny rounds of copper and nickel to pay for paper movie tickets. All this in a world where space travel is commonplace, libraries of information can fit into a portable drive smaller than my hand, and video-conversations can happen in real-time with multiple people on the other side of the world.
I touch on the concept a little in Book 1, but it’s such an interesting concept to me, that I think I will elevate it in Book 2.
v. Read the chapter again, focusing on the ‘mechanics’. Again, all this was captured in a spreadsheet, but for this step I used multiple tabs – one each for character descriptions, location profiles, unique terms, capitalised terms, turns of phrase, spelling conventions, timeline milestones, etc, etc.
This is where you should pick up on things like which words you capitalise or hyphenate and which ones you don’t, e.g. rundown or run-down, the Emancipation or The Emancipation.
More important are the character, location and story-specific nouns. The last thing you want is a diminutive character in Book 1 becoming tall and imposing in Book 2 (unless that’s the sort of sci-fi you are spinning).
Sci-fi and Fantasy have it tougher than most. I can’t tell you how many made-up and manipulated terms I have for things like plastics and metals or city infrastructure. Keep track of them and their descriptions and write it all down.
The list of your character descriptions is also useful because it doubles as a character list – use them! Don’t invent new characters for Book 2 if a supporting (or cameo) character can do the job.
vi. Repeated step 4 and 5 for the subsequent chapters (not forgetting to go back and update whether a plot intrigue has been resolved).
vii. Closed the book, sighed a happy sigh, started planning for the next stage of edits.
What about you? Are you going through the editing process as well? What other steps do you walk through in your approach? Let me know in the comments!
Read on for Step 2 and Step 3.
Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash
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