About 3-4 months ago now I launched my new writer website with the intention to sprinkle some writing process/update posts alongside my world building posts. So today’s post will be just that, focusing on the re–plot and editing process.
Finished first draft
After what seems like forever, I finally finished my first draft. Like most impatient people I got to work immediately on what I needed for the next draft. This is despite almost all the advice out there saying put the first draft away, have a break and come back to it.
Inevitably I got myself in a bit of a muddle. I came up with a list of scenes that I needed for the second draft but then I was still changing my mind on what I wanted to happen.
A much-needed break
Thankfully, I got the opportunity to go on holiday for 10 days to Luxembourg and Germany. I didn’t write at all during that holiday. While that left me feeling a bit of writer’s guilt, it was probably for the best as it gave me a break from my novel.
Now I’m back, I’ve had a look over what needs doing with my draft and decided that I needed to start from the beginning.
One issue I was having was with the prequel storyline I.e the bits that proceed the events of the book. It was all a bit muddy and vague and I was struggling to twist the plot into something that made sense and was interesting.
Sometimes it’s best to start again and not hold on too tightly to things that simply don’t work. I decided to re-plot it and come up with a more solid backstory.
This is frightening for someone who has been working on the same ideas for a couple of years. What if I mess it all up?
However, I went through with it and I’ve re-plotted my backstory in a way that I’m much happier with. I am very aware that the changes I’ve made will change every strand of the story so this replot will be continuing throughout the book.
Not only will I be editing, I will be rewriting the plot and the story too. It sounds like a huge pain in the arse if I’m honest but I sincerely hope that this experience will better inform my plotting choices in future novels I write. Fingers crossed!
As usual I’ve been plagued with familiar doubts.
What the hell are you doing?
What if you mess it up?
How can you call yourself a writer if you plot AFTER you’ve written the story?
For now I’m trying really hard to ignore them. In a way, these thoughts are like background noise. They follow me everywhere and yet I’m somehow still trying to make this writing thing work.
One thing I know for sure is that I need to be brutal with edits and rewriting. Every writer does. The starting point and the end product of a novel are two massively different things. The story I started out with had a lot of problems that can only really get better. In my final drafts I believe the story will be unrecognisable from what I started out with and that’s not a bad thing.
My main question throughout this re-plotting and editing process has been: Is this too convenient?
By this I mean, have I written this because it was easy for me? Or my characters for that matter? Does it actually make sense or do I just want it to?
I’d be the first to admit I’m a lazy writer. Some people over-write, some people under-write. I am definitely the latter and so one of my bad habits is to write things that are convenient for me but have no place in the story.
Looking over my plot, there are so many examples of times I’ve done things that are convenient. When I read over them I’m left asking: Why? Why did I think that was a good idea? Why would anyone want to read that?
This is good. It’s also horrible because you feel you’ve been wasting your time but it’s really good to look over old work, even from a few months ago and think – that’s shit. I can do better now.
And on that note, I believe that’s what writing and editing is all about – recognising when something is shit and doing better next time.
Are you currently in the dreaded editing process? What’s your approach to editing? Do you do any re-plotting? Please share your thoughts below.