This past week I’ve become intimately familiar with the characters in my novel. I gave birth to them, so we already know each other well. BUT. Now having reread my own novel a handful of times (and if you know me, I never read a book twice so this process is super weird), I know my characters as if they are real people.
I found myself gossiping about their love life on a phone call last night. I had an idea of a secret one is going to keep from another in a future book. I decided when one of them was going to propose, have a heart attack, have a baby, feel devastated. Yet at the same time I don’t feel like I am in control of them, I’m just guiding these people down a path and I’m not sure yet how they will react to the situations I’m going to give them.
In addition to editing the first novel, I’ve outlined the next three books that follow these characters. I’ve also completely written out select chapters for books two and three. And I can see the climax scene of book four playing over and over in my head like a movie trailer…I need to take the time to write out that chapter too so it will leave me alone.
Even though I’ve read this first book over and over, new details keep jumping out. I just realized that one of my characters had steely grey eyes at the start of the book and later they were a deep sea blue. Oops. Therefore I now also have a character bio sheet where I’m recording everyone’s appearances and history that I’ve already assigned them to ensure I don’t make missteps like that again.
Today I spent 4 hours in the library doing another round of edits. This time sweeping the book for dialogue issues. I have a character that likes to drop the g on -ing words and she slips in a ya in place of a you. But I didn’t write it that way all the way through and that’s another detail to fix. My first 100 pages are back with my professional editor for her second sweep, I have 67 more pages ready to send to her for her first sweep and another 82 to finish addressing myself before I forward them on.
The beauty is that I feel like I am learning a lot about my own writing style and I can see the words I throw in just as filler that can be cut to make the story move faster. I use “up” and “out” too often. I begin a lot of dialogue with “so” or “well”…which is fine to assign to one character, but not multiple characters. Addressing the way I write with these tedious and multiple layers of editing will fine tune my skills for when I can tackle the next book and produce a cleaner version to start with.
And now…back to the editing.