Just a short column this week as I am busy with all the usual commitments plus organising cake and wine for my debut novel publication day (eek) as well as trying to finish off all the Christmas chocolate by Easter (it’s a hard task but someone has to step forward) my only escape has been an afternoon with the child watching a bit of Disney’s Frozen. So my debut novel has a publication date of 12th February and we have now finished the editing. I’m not entirely sure what’s been going on as this is the first time I’ve been through this process and I’m still trying to manage my excitement levels which did reach a peak after seeing my lovely cover (by the very talented Jane Harwood).
Editing is when you really appreciate the wonder that is track changes. It makes it so easy to flick to the next query or amendment. It’s also good to go back to your manuscript with fresh eyes and to try to read it as a reader. It’s funny because I very rarely read the same book twice (I have a To Be Read pile to rival the Eiffel Tower so must keep forging ahead). The big exception to the not reading twice rule is my own novel because I have to read it to edit it, so I have read it many times. It does make you wonder if you have some sort of split personality disorder or acute memory loss when you read whole chunks that you can’t remember writing. Especially when it’s something funny and it makes you laugh. I always think that’s a good sign, as I already know the joke. (Although perhaps the memory loss thing does need investigating further, anyway…) Equally when it’s a line that brings a lump to your throat and again you know it’s coming but it still draws the emotion, you know you’ve got it right.
In the early edits before I share it with anyone I also find that I spot where I’ve got it wrong and these are the tricky bits because you don’t always know exactly how to put it right. Cue wonderful writing friends, agent and editor. This is where a little brainstorming session is really valuable. The chance to ask ‘What if?’ The opportunity to turn up the pressure (for your characters, not you, you’re under enough pressure), to increase the number of hurdles they need to overcome (in a totally believable way, obviously). You don’t have to cram in all the suggestions that are offered, you may still go with your own ideas but it will have proved useful even if it triggers just a couple of alternatives or reaffirms your original thoughts.
The worrying thing is that the editing process for my first novel is now over and this is the bit where the tinkering has to stop and I have to have my fingers prised off it and let my book baby go off into the world (sniff). Cue song ‘Let it go, let it go…”
Bella’s first novel, It Started at Sunset Cottage is due to be released in February 2015 by Harper Impulse. She was a runner-up for the New Talent Award at the 2013 Festival of Romance and a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association. Every fortnight, Bella will be sharing her experiences and advice as a new author. She also has her own blog – www.bellaosborne.com
Novel Kicks is a blog for story tellers and book lovers.