I’m in that really awkward stage of editing my novel…that’s where I start cutting sections out of the story or placing them somewhere else while I decide what to do next. It’s a confusing process. As I said elsewhere, I feel the first twelve chapters have structural problems concerning too much back story introduced either too soon or in the wrong places. I noted also that some of the warmth and the charm from earlier rewrites had now gone, lost in a flurry of grim memories of rising vigilantism on a tough housing estate in 1980s Britain.
I often think that self- editing is a bit like trying to cut your own hair in front of a mirror. Styling the front of the hair is probably the easiest part, but things get complicated when you reach the sides and back. The following, I believe, should guide a writer’s attempts at a rewrite:
- Keep the material you really care about, but remember to make any small changes for clarification purposes.
- Try to keep the plot as simple as possible at first. Then, you can develop it and add unexpected twists and turns. Problems usually occur when the various strands of the plot are introduced too early on. This confuses readers and leaves little to work on later in the story.
- Trust your own intuition. If something in the writing just doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. The opposite is true, of course. Others might not like what you’ve written, but you know it’s excellent. Stick to your story.