Sunday, 3 April 2016
Do Not Enter - Serious Novel Editing Going On
On Thursday 18th of February (you see it's etched on my memory) you may remember I went up to London to have a meeting with Eve White of the Eve White Literary Agency. You may also remember how excited I was when I was offered representation by them.
To have an agent like your work enough to represent you feels like such a huge milestone that it is easy to think you have come to the end of your journey. As soon as you come back down to earth, though, you realise that this is far from the truth. Having representation is just the first lovely step on a long, long ladder.
So what have I been doing in the month since I wrote my excited blog post 'Out of the Slush Pile - how I found my agent'?
This is what I've been doing... editing... editing... editing.
These days, a novel is very rarely accepted as it is. A lot of the changes and edits that might once have been done after the book found a publisher, are now done beforehand with the guidance of the agent. The idea is to give the novel the best possible chance - and the agents know the market inside out.
Today, I finished my first round of edits. That might not sound like a huge achievement - but it it is to me. You see, part of my agreement with the agency was to make quite significant changes to the novel. In fact, I had to take out a complete viewpoint (a rather heart-wrenching 30,000 words). This was not as simple as it sounds as all the key information in the edited parts needed to be redistributed. Instead of seeing the second protagonist's actions through their own eyes, the reader would now have to discover these things through the conversations of other characters, letters, emails etc.
I have to admit I was a bit daunted at first but I knew I needed to make a commitment to the changes. They wouldn't work unless I had faith that they would make the novel stronger (after all, my agent knows the publishing business a whole lot better than I do).
Since starting the work several people have asked me how I went about making the changes so I thought I'd tell you here on the blog.
1. I removed the second POV completely (leaving 50,000 words)
2. I printed out the cut POV
3. I wrote down all the chapter headings and made brief notes of the key information that needed to be put back into the story
4. Beside these, I jotted down ideas of how each particular bit of information could be imparted e.g. the name of a character, letter, email etc.
5. I decided what information waranted a new chapter and what could be added to existing chapters
6. On the printout, I circled any actions/scenes/settings that I particularly liked that could be transferred to another character
7. I worked methodically through each chapter, ticking things off as I went on both my chapter headings and the printout.
8. I made notes as I went of things I needed to check once it was all done.
9. I put the revised novel onto my kindle and read it for continuity.
I have to admit I was rather nervous when I started reading. What if I didn't like the new version? What if I thought it was better without the changes? Luckily, I had to agree with my agent... the novel had a different feel to it but it was all the stronger for the changes.
It's now sent and I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that my agent likes it too.
If not... it's out with the red pen and scissors again!