Editing: Shadow of Doubt.

Shadow of Doubt is a crime story about Detective Chief Inspector Robert Carter who is trying to solve a series of horrific murders while dealing with his own personal problems, a promise he shouldn’t have made, and bureaucratic BS.

So yesterday I worked on chapters 1 and 2 of my second novel ‘Shadow of Doubt‘ and today i’m starting on chapter 3 and I guess we’ll see how far I get. Hoping to work on chapter 4 too, but we’ll see.

Yes, Shadow of Doubt is the second novel i’ve written. The first being ‘Crow‘ which turned out worse than expected so I shelved it for later and just got on with the next project.

It’s important to understand you will write utter shit. Not everything is genius. But more importantly you need to recognise when you write utter shit. You can then move on without wasting your time. Come back to it later or maybe just wait until you have some kind of epiphany.

Chapter 3 took me five and a half hours to edit and now feels like a completely new chapter. I mean it still says what I want it to say, but in a different more interesting way. Sure it kicked my arse but as I look back over it I feel better about it. This arse kicked feeling lets me know I actually did some good work. Chapter 3 is now better than it was.

This is why I love editing. If you make films you’d have to go back out there and spend more money re-shooting stuff. As a writer we can just delete and re-write. We can make the bad, good. The good, better, and all it takes is a few hours of critical thinking. It might seem daunting, and I’m got going to say it isn’t hard because it is… this whole process of writing and getting a book published is hard, if it were easy every body yuddha yuddha … you get the idea. It’s supposed to be hard.

How I edit;

First I open up the chapter, in this case chapter 3, then I read through it and add an extra space between each paragraph just to separate them so I can focus on one at a time. Books are big and if you try to edit the whole thing each time you’ll lose your damn mind so just do it in smaller bites. I go back to the top and start reading again this time paying attention to each sentence. I read it aloud and I wonder if I need it. Are there any words I can remove to make this sentence flow better but retain the meaning.

I do this with each paragraph. And I do it over and over. You might miss something first time round, so go again. I tend to do this until I can’t make any more changes.

First pass: just a quick house clean.

Second pass: I look at each character: Behaviour, mood, are they consistent.

Third pass: Dialogue again for each character, does it sound like them, is their dialogue consistent.

Fourth pass: Now I look at all descriptive text.

Fifth pass: Book style and mood and emotion (how I want the reader to feel). This works in with the 4th pass.

Sixth pass: Can I remove the word ‘That’ from this chapter?

I would normally do all this after writing each chapter but I only just got my shit together so here I am doing it after the fact.

Bigger things like story, plot, sub plots and fluidity will be done once I’ve finished these chapter edits. You kinda need to see everything as a whole to do those. Then I’ll look at spelling, grammar and punctuation in the copy edit.

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