Round One of Editing a First Draft
Recently, I finished the first draft of my latest story, my Georgian historical romance. After letting it “season” for a few weeks, I started my revisions this past week. It was an enjoyable yet humbling experience.
The first round of editing started with a high-level read through of the story as a whole. My intent was to read it fairly rapidly, looking for major issues such as slow pace, missing or too-short scenes, etc. Any notes would be jotted down on a separate notepad positioned near my elbow, so I didn’t have to make any notes on my printed manuscript.
I learned two things shortly after I started reading. The first lesson I learned is that my story is not quite as complete as I smugly thought it was. Which shouldn’t have surprised me – it is still only a first draft, after all. The bones of a good story are there, but it needs a little of shuffling of scenes. The main problem to fix is when the hero and heroine meet. I’m not someone who believes they absolutely must meet on the first page of the story or you should throw out the story. In fact, I still think not having them meet right away could add some poignancy to this particular story. But once I started reading, I had to admit they were meeting too late in the story arc, even for me. But I can fix that. In fact, thanks to some brainstorming assistance from the writers I meet every Wednesday night, I have some good ideas on how to accomplish it.
The second lesson I learned is I am not very good at reading a paper copy of a story without marking it up. My plan to not do any detailed editing on the first reading only lasted about two pages. There are lots of blue ink marks on the text, in addition to the notes I did manage to write on other paper. While I wasn’t supposed to be looking for minor typos or other quick edits, if I noticed them, I couldn’t pass them by without noting them. I consoled myself that this will make the next round of editing go faster, but I might just be fooling myself.
However, there was also good news in all of this. I still really like this story. I like the hero and heroine, and some of the scenes still make me cry, every time I read them. Once I get this story down on paper the way I see it in my head, I think readers will like it too. I have a few more rounds of revisions before I get to that point, but I look forward to the day I can put my latest creation into another reader’s hands.
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I write historical fiction, and I invite you to share the journey to published author with me.