Saturday, September 11, 2010

Love You To Pieces

Normally, my manuscripts are usually in one document. Granted, I've only written short stories and only one novel, so it's not really something I should call a "track record." Still, one document is good -- keep it simple.

But with the WIP, I did something different, and it's starting to get annoying. Because of the complexity and scope of the story, and given that I have two protagonists (and POV characters), I decided (after about 40K) to split the narratives into two documents, one for each POV character. It sounded like a good idea and it was. Better for my writing because when I felt stuck with one POV, I would switch to another and go from there. It's also more manageable: I now have two smaller documents to back up and update. Then, later in the writing process, I also added a third document called "ending"... it's rather self-explanatory. :) Again, the idea was to isolate a certain piece from the behemoth novel so I could focus or shift my attention more easily.

It was all good until now, when I need to edit. What a PITA trying to piece everything together. It turns out it wasn't just a straightforward cut and paste job at all.  I found there during the writing process, as I shifted around and changed focus, instead of my normal "keep it in one place" approach, a few things happened:

- there are missing scenes or pieces that I either forgot to fill in, or I put the notes in and then forgot about them

- sometimes the voice is inconsistent

- the chronological order of events were somewhat messed up

- the causality and effects of the events are not always coherent

Now, you may say, "So what? That happens to me all the time. That's why it's called editing."  I understand that, and I'm doing just that: editing. The thing is, it's all new to me again, because it's not something I normally do. I've been writing "seriously" for almost ten years now and I've always kept each of my mss. in one document. The first draft of The Pacific Between, at 95K, was in one single document. In a way, this multiple-document approach now feels rather like the "five men, one elephant" approach. It feels like the novel in my head is this huge elephant, but each POV in the document is only seeing a small part of the elephant, and now I need to put them all together and hope the elephant doesn't turn out to be some kind of mutant creature.

Last night I spent almost two hours putting all the documents together and rearranging passages and changing things around. It was quite a mental workout. The aforementioned four things did happen, and I know I need to fix them, but at least I know now, which is a good start.

2 comments:

ORION said...

Actually three documents aren't a bad idea- revision (and I mean bulky serious revision) is horrible. My least favorite thing. I enjoy line editing because it's picky and easy lol!!
Revision is like pulling guts out through your eyeball:
You just don't know where to begin...

Ray Wong said...

I agree... but I'm having some fun now, even though I do have to do some guts-pulling type of revision: structures, revised plot (that resulted in other things not working anymore or having to change), etc. I enjoy that stuff, though. I HATE copyediting, and would rather leave that stuff for a real copyeditor -- I can't do that with my own work anyway.