I’ve started editing again. Not because it was a job at the top of my list, but because my current historical fiction chapter has driven me crazy. Crazy!
When we last set down the third book in our Black Skies Series, Darkness, Set Us Free, I thought that there wasn’t too much more editing to go. Perhaps tweaking those problem chapters again (I’m looking at you, Chapter 7). Maybe give it a general polish, a good once over.
From where I sat, it was in pretty good shape.
But then, we got some initial Beta comments back. They were mostly positive, but it indicated that there was more work to be done — new chapters and characters needed to be added. Some of the relationships required work. I added all these items to my ‘to edit’ list and left the manuscript in the drawer. Our historical fiction novel needed writing, and working on the Black Skies Series would only give me a reason to procrastinate.
Months later, after When the Rain Falls was released, one of my writing friends offered to beta read the rest of the series for us — she enjoyed WTRF so much she couldn’t wait for us to finish and release the next books. After reading Darkness, Set Us Free, she gave me another fairly hefty list of comments and suggestions.
Armed with all this feedback and wallowing in the doldrums of the dreaded writer’s block, I decided to start editing Darkness, Set Us Free again.
After almost a year of it sitting on the backburner, when I opened the manuscript and started assessing it with fresh eyes, I had a surprise awakening. This manuscript needed work. Lots of work. Starting from the opening lines, all I saw were areas for improvement. There were paragraphs that definitely needed to be rewritten. There were chapters where I felt the tone didn’t quite hit the mark anymore.
Admittedly, I only got four chapters in before deciding that I needed to re-read the whole story from beginning to end before I started the editing in earnest. It started to feel like there was so much to be done, and I didn’t know where to begin.
So, that’s where I’m at, reading Darkness, Set Us Free from the beginning so I can begin editing with a clearer picture of the state of the manuscript. I had forgotten how valuable time can be. Just letting a manuscript rest for a while, forgetting its existence, and revisiting it a while later can be eye-opening.
Time can reveal so much about a piece of work, and I’m glad that I left that manuscript in the drawer for so long. It will be a much better novel for it.
Do you ever find that leaving manuscripts for a while allows you to see them more clearly? What’s your editing process? Let me know in the comments below.