I hate editing.
A few of you may remember my serialized novel, The Old Mill, that I posted a little over two years ago. After finishing the book I decided to put it on the back burner and work on other things for a while. One problem is that there are a few similarities with my book The Halley Branch and I wanted to put some space between the two. So the rough draft, which I had posted here, was sitting, gathering dust. For some reason i couldn’t get the inspiration to pick it up again. In my opinion, the hardest part of writing is doing the second, third, fourth, fifth, etc. drafts. The first draft is the easy, fun part.
A couple of weeks ago I picked it back up and started the next draft. I haven’t made it very far….
The first thing I ran into had to do with names. I changed the name of one character half way through and have already run into both versions of the name. I don’t remember why I changed it and which is the final name. I’m about 90% sure that I will have to make a third version of the name. The problem is, a lot of names run in the main family of the book, so doing a search on the name is only partially helpful. I may hit another character with the same name.
And that is the next problem. The repetition of names isn’t all bad, but I did it too much. I have charts and explanations and such, but it can be confusing. I may have to change some of the other names. To do that wouldn’t just be as simple as changing the names, but changing a lot of text about which generation we are talking about. Is it the 1820 Margret or the 1920 Margret? There are a lot of discussions on these things that would change. A bad thing? perhaps not, but it would change the feel of the book.
And then I found a hole which I am filling by adding two new characters, one a main character (not the main character). Which of course means changes in almost every chapter. Big changes.
And then there is the fact that too many women flirt with the main character. It turns out that not as many do as it might seem at first, and much of it is for a reason, i.e., to manipulate the guy, but on the surface it would be easy to read the book in a way to make it seem a bit misogynistic. So I need to figure out how to change it. Do I remove a lot of the flirting, thus changing some major plot points? How about showing where the main character misinterprets friendliness with flirting in a way obvious to the reader, so the reader knows that much of the flirting is in his mind, not the woman’s mind? But then I don’t want him to be a jerk. Maybe add more female characters who plainly and clearly do not flirt with him? That way the few who seem to, for whatever reason, are exceptions, and often are doing it to manipulate him. Maybe, but I already have a lot of characters…
Yuck. I will have to change my editing style and perhaps do a 100% rewrite of the entire book. Start from scratch.
But that’s not the worst of it.
The back story of the book is very important. Super important. In fact, in some ways the main plot is secondary to that back story. Although it is not a mystery, in ways it is. The main character is trying to solve a 200 year old cold case.That 200 year old cold case and the fall out for the family involved, which is just as important to the present day story, could be an entire book on its own.
So how do I tell that story? It does have to be told.
As it stands, I have the main character befriending the head of the local historic society. This guy is an expert in exactly the history we need to discover. So there are chapters of the two of them talking. The historian gives just the information needed to move the outside plot along, but it is still a lot of information. A huge amount of information.
In other words, these chapters with the historian become giant data dumps.
So how do I get the back story across without being a data dump? I used a diary in The Halley Branch, so I don’t want to do that again. Flash back chapters? Those usually don’t work. Adding it in a little at a time through discoveries and casual conversation, perhaps doubling the length of the book? Hmmm. I’m still not sure.
I really like the story and feel the whole thing is the best that I’ve written, even if it is still in very rough form. But moving on from here just looks painful.
Can you see why I always dread editing and why I’ve avoided The Old Mill for so long?
I hate editing.
Oh well, back to it…