Wednesday 17 April 2013

Half Way Through: Ten Tips for Editing Your/My novel

I’ve spent a week or two now carrying out an in-depth edit on the first half of the new novel and am very much reminded of  the words of John Braine in his 1974 book How To Write a Novel 

'The most difficult task for a novelist is the movement of people between time and place.'   

This deceptively simple statement occurs to me every time I embark on some heavy duty editing.

For me beginning a novel, involves researching, thinking, imagining, writing sketches, making bubbles of action and linking them into some kind of loose structure. It involves collecting images, drawing people and pictures, making maps (see my post about Mapping the Imagination).

So now, I’ve just finished the half-way-through-edit and here for you  is my new list of

 Top ten things to do on a half way edit.  

This involves: 

1.     Gradually recognising and refining your own style (always learning …)

2.     Establishing the strong foundation on which you will build the rest of the novel

3.      Inserting earlier the significant detail now emerging in the narrative.

4.     Reinforcing time/place where it seems useful

5.      Ensuring consistency in place and characterisation

6.     Checking continuity of action 

7.     Changing, evolving and establishing names as characters reveal themselves

8.     Recognising and endorsing the significant characters and points of view

9.     Ensuring that the structure is doing its job for the reader. - This could include the way the
       chapter and part structure work

10.                        Recognising structural implications for the rest of the novel

After that at last you (and I!)  can think forward to the second half of the novel. For me this means more thinking, more imagining, more images, and … er … another map…

I thought maybe you’d like to see some Work in Progress
… Lleu raises his hand. I close my eyes and think of the statue of Branwen in the centre of the pool in my father’s house. Then I raise my hand and, side by side, Lleu and I begin, steady step by steady step, to walk on fire. We do not hurry.  The crowd breaks into great applause as finally we leap back onto the grass at the far end. The old priest, still standing there at the end of the fire pit waves his staff across us and sings a blessing. I am filled with energy and delight and smile broadly and wave at the great circle of people there. Lleu holds up his arms in a victory salute. The young stick fighters beat their sticks against each other making a rattling rhythm. A pipes-man squeezes out a few notes. Another man makes his elk horn pipe squeal.
Lleu smiles and shushes the crowd. ‘Would any here like to walk the fire as do my sister and I?’ He grins broadly at the chorus of groans…


  1. Hello just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The text in your post seem to be running off the screen in Internet explorer.
    I'm not sure if this is a format issue or something to do with web browser compatibility but I figured I'd post to let you know.
    The design and style look great though! Hope you get the issue resolved soon.

    My website; pas cher air max

    1. Dear Anon
      Thanks for the 'heads up'.
      Kathleen Jones (see comment below) tells me this is because Blogger doesn't work with IE. (Didn't know this... will see what I can do) Could you get in on Google Chrome?

      In the meantime I am glad that you like the design and style and hope you enjoy reading what you can and use your creativity to make up the rest!
      All best

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you Talli. I very much enjoyed looking at your blog. Lots of life and fizz.

  3. Very good tips! and for anonymous - blogger no longer works with Internet Explorer - as well as several other blog platforms. They seem intent on freezing IE out in favour of Chrome or Mozilla - so it's not your problem Wendy.
    Lovely map - can't wait to read the rest.

    1. Thank you for the help on this problem of access, Kathleen.
      I'm so enjoying writing this novel - best ever, I think. Hoping it will be ready by July - then out into the publishing jungle. I really enjoyed your commentary on your blog on the independent publishing world. You are so encouraging. Very best



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