With The Circle Game by Joni Mitchell in my head as inspiration in a time of heavy editing, I’m writing again on the editing process, as it relates to Twinned, the working title of my novel. (Hard to show the title the way I’d like, so I’ll use a strikeout.) For this post, I fell upon a wonderful cover of the song by Tori Amos.
The novel roots on paper; I wrote it at the camp and brought it home with me. From March until August last year, I transcribed it onto my computer, began editing rounds one, two, three, and now four. A usual edit pass-through of the 54 chapter, 353 page, 101,400 word novel takes ten weeks. Edit four whizzes by at light speed, and might finish in five. Edit five might cut the five week time in half.
Drafts create storyline. Editing refines, colours, embellishes, and tidies. With much time invested, it feels like a world real, one past my reach, but present. I know the characters and what happens to them; I see their journey in my head.
I challenge every situation, paragraph, sentence, and word. Usage debate permeates all, right down to ‘do I use into or onto, in or on? What word usage makes the story flow? What combinations sing? What words get in the way of a reader and what keeps a reader engrossed? Will they feel her pain or laugh at her antics? Will a reader identify with her, and embrace her strength?
Protagonist Tess teams with her identical twin sister. The story emanates from Tess, her perception of events as a wave of unsuspected destiny carries her away. It all began for her while she sipped a margarita and channel surfed, pausing on political campaign news. Within seconds, a panic attack had her by the throat, because she saw herself in the campaign news.
I could write out the story events as a flow chart, starting from the panic attack. This happens, and this, and this, and this… it’s all in my head. It feels tidy, save for one more little thing I wish to sneak into the last chapter, a minor detail, but worth the insertion. If I catch myself saying ‘it’s okay’, I go after it with fervour. Okay is not good enough.