Author Topic: Editing a novel...before writing it  (Read 1364 times)

Offline Sciencia

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 6
Editing a novel...before writing it
« on: August 03, 2013, 07:44:12 PM »
The story I am writing covers five years of events (in four books - all of which have been pre-planned)

but there are also peoples memories - some of which may be quite long and detailed, occurring many years before book 1 - which I think are important to the story.

and every couple of chapters I have an insert from a diary, written hundreds of years before the first book takes place, but which is also very important.

I'm worried that I will have an awful lot of content and even though I have only written the first book, I find myself cutting out dozens of chapters (and ideas for the next books) just because I'm worried it will be too long and all the backstories will confuse the reader.

On the other hand...I could turn my four-part series into a five or six part, as long as it interests the reader the length won't matter. If I pace myself with each book and develop the characters properly, there is no reason the reader should get confused...(I hope)

I suppose I just need another person's perspective. I'm just very aware of having too large a story but having to force myself to cut out some of my best ideas just to keep it manageable  :-\

Offline Alice, a Country Gal

  • http://www.writestreet.com/writestree
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 31219
  • Hello from Texas
    • Alice's Hide Away
Re: Editing a novel...before writing it
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2013, 08:39:39 PM »
Have you written the first book yet?

I ask because it seems to me that you might not have a good idea of how much editing is needed until it's written.

 
MWC Charity Publications.
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight>
The universe is made of stories, not of atoms. -Muriel Rukeyser, poet and activist (15 Dec 1913-1980)

R. L. Copple's: http://www.rlcopple.com/

I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.
-Mohandas K. Gandhi

Offline Sciencia

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 6
Re: Editing a novel...before writing it
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2013, 05:27:27 AM »
I have written the first book, although I have planned the other 3 in a lot of detail (which has always suited me) and have made a very rough draft of the second.

Offline Alice, a Country Gal

  • http://www.writestreet.com/writestree
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 31219
  • Hello from Texas
    • Alice's Hide Away
Re: Editing a novel...before writing it
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2013, 09:22:18 AM »
I have written the first book, although I have planned the other 3 in a lot of detail (which has always suited me) and have made a very rough draft of the second.

That's good. Due to what you wrote in the subject line I kept having the feeling you were attempting to edit before writing.  ;)

So, with the one book you have already written, how much have you already edited? One pass through? Two or more?

 
MWC Charity Publications.
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight>
The universe is made of stories, not of atoms. -Muriel Rukeyser, poet and activist (15 Dec 1913-1980)

R. L. Copple's: http://www.rlcopple.com/

I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.
-Mohandas K. Gandhi

hillwalker3000

  • Guest
Re: Editing a novel...before writing it
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2013, 11:31:03 AM »
You use the word 'important' twice in trying to convince yourself why you have to include so much detail. Ask yourself whether or not the story will work just as well without every single bit you believe is vital.

The problem with planning a novel or series of novels in such depth before even writing it is that you end up with a great deal of research - often material you include simply to justify the time you spent digging up the information. This research probably forms the scaffolding for the story, but once the novel is completed you have to let it stand on its own. Editing is when the time comes to dismantle the scaffolding - and you have to be ruthless otherwise you will end up with an unmanageable tome that no one will want to read let alone publish.

Good luck with 'killing your darlings'.

H3K

Wolfe

  • Guest
Re: Editing a novel...before writing it
« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2013, 09:23:23 AM »
Let's be clear on something. Thinking about your ideas, characters, and plot-lines is a huge part of being a writer. But never writing about your ideas? That makes you a thinker. A dreamer. A wannabe.

I suggest, as Alice noted, you write the work first before you worry about minutia. There's a chance, as you write, that certain ideas or theories won't pan out. Sounds good in your head, but reads terrible in print.

Right now, you're putting the proverbial cart before the horse.

Write first, edit second. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. And you'll hear a lot of otherwise. Yet you can't 'edit' thoughts or plans. Again, that's thinking. That's dreaming. That's the path of the unpublished.

It happens. Even to me. I planned and wrote a novel in a three-part arc. The first arc was great. Second arc was excellent . . . mostly. The third arc was a undeniable disaster that ended with writer's block.

The less-than-epic parts in the second arc got chopped. The third requires a complete rewrite. And the novel, to include the first arc, needed addressing to realign the plot holes and structure while I refocused on what did work.

This is part of the writing life. And it's also part of editing. You write the basic structure first. And discover, along the way and through editing second, what does and doesn't work. You can't talk, think, or outline a novel to completion. You need to write it. Not only for the experience, but also for the knowledge you gain as a storyteller.

On that note, I need to get back to fixing that mess. ;)
« Last Edit: August 05, 2013, 09:39:52 AM by Wolfe »