Are you ready to be wowed by my Red Pen Edit process? No? Okay, you got me. Editing can’t really be interesting (it’s too hellish for that), but I had a lot of positive feedback when I sent it out in my last Newsletter (sign up below in case you want me to flood your inbox twice a month with my weirdness, updates, and teasers) so I thought I’d share it here too. Ready? Okay, let’s go.
If you’ve read my post “Editing Hell“, you know about my dreaded “Red Pen Edits.”
This is the last step of my self-edits (Step 6) and where I’m currently stuck. Well, not stuck, but it’s sur taking for-ducking-ever (way longer than I anticipated), so either I’ve become a better writer and editing is taking me longer because I’m making more improvements (please let this be it), or, when I wrote book 2, Past Erica Birch Face Supreme were suffering from an extra dose of horribleness and was cackling gleefully as she imagined all the extra work I’d be forced to do… (she’s a total glee cackler, that one. Seriously, it’s all she does, just cackle cackle cackle all day long).
So I thought I was done adding during step 5 (the adding step), but no… I’ve added so many words during the Red Pen of Doom that I’ve gotten tendonitis… Luckily I found some great physio excersises that has helped, but still… I’m in hell. Editing hell, that is. (thank god I’m almost done!)
Wait, what is this again?
For those of you who have no idea what the hell I’m talking about, Red Pen Edits is when I print out the whole book and go over everything scene by scene. I’m not looking for errors here (although I find plenty—and some fun Past Erica comments that makes me want to cry ), what I’m looking at is flow, word choice, cadence, missing steps (you know those whiplash moments when a character is crying in one sentence and laughing the next? Yeah, a step is missing there), bareness (because I may occasionally—more than occasionally—forget to describe setting because I only care about the characters, dammit!), denseness (you know when you glance at a page and it seems like there’s no room to breathe and you get tired before you even start reading? That’s too much denseness), and tons of things like that.
What does that mean?
It means there’s a lot of re writing going on.
Sometimes I’ll have to delete the whole scene and start again (this is by far my least favorite thing. When a scene is so bad it can’t be salvaged, it means I have to write it again from scratch. And starting over while still having to capture the scene’s essence so it can tie in with what came before and what came after is freakin hard!).
Other times, a scene just needs a big overhaul, and occasionally (very occasionally), it only needs a couple of paragraphs rewritten. My favorite is when the scene is good enough that I just have to fix a couple of sentences here and there—though this almost never happens. Why, you may ask? Cause Past Erica is a birch who hates me, that’s why.
Below is a paragraph that survived from first draft, through first round of edits and was overlooked during round two as well. But during my red-pen edits, I noticed that the last part was “hard” to read. It didn’t flow. And when I tried to fix it, I realized it needed a proper re-write because it was an important moment in the book, and it should be empowered.
Before red pen: Soon, twelve Council members stood side by side—their overwhelming, powerful presence making the grand stage look small and the thousands of gathered lycans seem standing at attention much less intimidating than before.
After red pen: Soon, twelve Council members stood side by side, looking more like an army than political leaders. Instead of swords, they possessed rending claws and teeth that tore flesh from bones. Instead of armor, they were coated in layers of snapping, snarling power. Instead of shields, they carried with them the confidence of predators, the cunning of time, and the cold, calculated indifference of beings that answered to no one.
So yeah, that’s a typical red pen edit for a single paragraph. I may end up editing this one further when I do my last re-read of the whole book, but for now, I think it’s okay.
So… How far are you?
Pretty damned far! It shouldn’t be long now before Assembly is released. I know, it’s taken me much longer than I first thought, but BOY… I’ve added A LOT. If you were stalking my Coming Soon page, you might have seen that Assembly clocked in at 130 000 words. Well, during these last few months of edits, I’ve added almost 70 000 words to it! That’s a full length novel on top of what was already a big book! Assembly was supposed to be way shorter than Hunted (which is 186 000), but now it looks like Assembly may even be a little longer! I’ve added so many scenes that I’ve had to start adding letters to the their numbers (today, for example, I edited scene 51b). So yeah. It’s taken quite a while, but you’re getting A LOT more content than planned, and hopefully all the work I’ve done with the writing, the story, and the characters will pay off and you’ll all love it! (I’m telling you right now, if you don’t love it, I’m going to find the nearest bridge, pitch up a tent, and fulfill my destiny as a bridge troll. You just watch me.)