Editing a Series

Editing a SeriesOn Sunday night, I finished editing the current draft of Planes Shifter.

The Story Itself

It began as “Wings of Skell” in January 2012. In September 2012, I saw the opportunity to send unagented submissions to a fantasy publisher and thought “this is the chance of a lifetime”. I’d never heard of such a big publisher accepting them, and knew that I had to at least submit my story. Just in case.

The problem with that was a) I hadn’t finished the book yet and b) They wouldn’t accept it under a certain wordcount. Which meant that even finishing the book, I had to make sure it met that criteria. I had around 30,000 words written, and aimed for 80,000.

So I spent three weeks writing the second half of the book and then three days editing it.

Then I submitted it, and aware of the three-month-wait I’d have until they made a decision, began National Novel Writing Month with the idea of a sequel.

The sequel draft came to 80,000 words in just 27 days. I have no idea what brought that to fruition, but I was astonished and excited to have two full drafts.

A Twist

But at the end of book two, I realised something. A major theme had shifted, and I needed to go back and edit book one to lead up to that. I needed to take out one aspect and really focus on a new one. Weaving a new thread through an existing story was difficult, and I can’t get my head around authors who manage to write sequels without needing to change bits of the first books.

I couldn’t have remained bound by that first book; it wouldn’t have flowed or had as much depth to it. I’d say the shift was enough to make an “okay” idea into a “good” idea. So I went back and made a few brief notes to the areas I could add this new thread.

And then I left space; for it to sit and rest, for my mind to forget the story’s intricacies. I opened it again in January, and found I couldn’t face the first draft of the first book. I wasn’t ready for the changes it needed.

So I stopped. I gave it more space. And then, in April, something told me to open it again. Across two weeks, I read it again, making changes to tenses, spelling, grammar and plot points as I went. I re-wrote the beginning, added a few new scenes, and just typed “[POV]” in red where the points of view messed up.

On Sunday, I interviewed S. M. Boyce with C. R. Trumbo. I asked about her editing process; aware of how stuck I’d become with my own. C. R. and I have been talking about it a lot lately, and from that interview, I found the motivation to push through the blocks. I found the aspects of my story that I loved, and re-wrote the parts I’d highlighted as needing a second look.

I made the goal of finishing the editing this week as somewhere to aim for, but tried not to put too much pressure on the deadline. I gave myself another two weeks of leeway.

But with that motivation, Planes Shifter is now a finished second draft, complete at 96,013 words and currently in the hands of two beta readers.

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