Monday, July 23, 2012

Editing: The First Reading

The eleventh post in my "Writing a Novel Series", which details my experience writing 151, covers the first stage of the greatly-feared process of editing: the first reading!

Okay, so the first draft of 151 was finally complete! After patting myself on the back, heading over to the nearest Staples, and proudly printing out all 357 pages (at a hefty $60!), the time to start thinking about editing had begun. Armed with my draft, I did what any writer would do after about 2 months of hard work: I set it aside and took a break!

After almost a month of distancing myself from the story, I came back. While I awaited any comments and feedback from a small group of friends, I decided to begin the first stage of editing: the First Reading. The First Reading is just that, sitting down and reading through the initial draft, not with an eye towards editing spelling, grammar, or story elements, but simply reading it for enjoyment, just as one would read through a regular novel.

The questions I asked myself as a relaxed with the pages of my novel and read through chapter by chapter: am I enjoying this? Is the story exciting? Are the characters compelling? Is it a page-turner? The only goal of the First Reading is to get an initial impression of the novel, to see whether it's something that I find and enjoyable--something that can be built on.

About 10 hours of reading later, the verdict was in: I enjoyed it! With a beginning that thrusts the reader immediately into the heart of the story, a middle that develops the core characters and intertwines the different threads of the plot, and an ending that builds to a climactic and satisfying finish, my first draft passed the First Reading with flying colours. I loved it!

But this was only the beginning... the editing process was definitely a long and difficult journey, which included editing for story and character content, editing for writing content, and then, finally, editing for spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Whew!