I’ve read what feel like hundreds of pages of writing advice. Delete all instances of word X. Never use ‘said’. Always use ‘said.’ Only three exclamation points are allowed in the whole book. Adverbs ending in -ly are satan incarnate. I’ve listened to podcasts that say don’t edit your first novel, start the next project. In the next few seconds of the podcast another author disagreed. What I have gathered from all these suggestions is one principle: writing is hard, but editing is harder.
I have been actively editing my novel, The Signature of a Thief, since February. After all of that work (about 50 hours), Today, I am editing scene 37. Out of 85. The entire book only took 55 hours to write, but I’m not even halfway through overhauling my first draft.
Now, part of this problem lays with how I wrote the book. It was my first true novel, and I went through it like a speed demon during NaNoWriMo. I find nothing inherently wrong with that. I wrote, and I have NaNo to thank for that. I went into NaNo with a rough outline of what I wanted to happen, but that outline changed rapidly. I rebuilt my antagonist twenty-five chapters into the book. I had added in an illness that suddenly appeared in chapter ten. Note to self: it is much easier to plan foreshadowing ahead of time than to add it in afterward.
But I’m not that upset. You see, if I hadn’t made those mistakes and changes then I would never have learned how to do better. Without deciding to revamp characters and move scenes around mid-novel, I wouldn’t have grown as an author.
This draft has been full of family and friends asking “When can I read it?” “Am I not allowed to read it?” “I want to read it! No one believes me when I say that it isn’t ready. I get looks of disbelief, like I’m just saying that because I don’t want to let go. It’s not ready. Reading what I have piecemeal will take away from your (hopefully) eventual enjoyment in the novel.
It’s not ready, but I’m working on it. I’ve learned more about writing in the past few months editing than I ever learned while writing and reading online.
Editing is hard, but it’s worth it. Soon, I’ll have proof.