Blocks in Editing a Series

engagement 005The Planes Series is my current work-in-progress.

The important information about this series is that I began writing the first draft of the first book in January 2012. I finished it in October 2012.

It’s now September 2013, and although I’ve gone from draft one to draft five, passed it through alpha/beta eyes and tweaked story lines, something’s not quite right.


I wrote the sequel for last year’s NaNoWriMo, which ended up much darker than I’d intended, yet gave rise to a story for the third book that I love. But it no longer flowed in the way I’d originally thought it would. Throughout planning books 2 and 3, I discovered a love of the events and the characters…

…which were missing from book 1.

It turns out I wrote a book I wouldn’t have chosen to read.

[yeah, I was pretty shocked when I realised]


I also found serious plot holes with book 1 as a story.  To the point of: “I have no villian, there’s no reason for X to happen, which means Y makes zero sense.”

Even though I then re-plotted every scene and added 4 new ones, and tried to re-begin the line edit on this plot-edited version, my brain kept trying to change the plot. And I kept fighting it.

We don’t have time!

That won’t work without a serious change!

How could that even begin to fit in there?

But even in my avoidance, it crept up on me. Every book I read felt like it was written a hundred times better. Every scene I went to edit felt clunky and out of my voice.

I couldn’t fix it though, because I’d aimed to finish the line-edit by the end of August. I kept telling myself it was temporary: I know that it’s the beginning and the scenes just before the end that I had to tweak the most; meaning that once I pass the scenes of the first five chapters, I should have an easy-ish ride until I hit those later ones.

And yet, I’ve not actively worked on this edit for a solid ten minutes in about 3 weeks.

I’m good at writing, at ignoring the inner editor and at coming up with plots and twists, or seeing the scenes in my head. I can change the story every time I look at it. But to edit the words that are already there? That’s where I struggle. I’ve ended up telling myself that this is the only real read-through where i’ll find massive errors (hoping to fix them during this process), and that’s upped the pressure on “getting it right” this time. But I’ve also discovered I’m not enjoying the edit – I’m thrown into perfectionist-mode, and it’s all imperfect.

But there’s a reason I can’t work on it. There’s a reason that voice is niggling. And it’s already stopping me from editing – ignoring the massive changes has put a halt on all edits because I just want to hide from it.


So I’ve stepped back from the book – gaming and re-watching my favourite movies. And last week I picked up a birthday present from my other half: A book about editor-proofing your writing.

I lay in bed, planning to read some tonight with maybe the idea of doing the “active homework side” tomorrow or the day after. No pressure.

And then I got into the ideas the book presented, finished reading chapter one, where the “homework” section sat, asking me to just look through my first chapter and pull out the “questions”.

That’s not scary – that’s not even a change – just textual analysis. English Language A-level style [which I loved, by the way]. I even decided just to do it for a scene, because it was 11:30pm.

I copied the first scene of my novel into Evernote, synced it to my phone and began editing it there and then. I read Chapter 2. And each time I found I’d “already done” the task naturally, I began to find some faith in my writing again.


I still haven’t finished the scene, and I have four scenes in chapter one, so it’s not a quick fix. However, I spent ten solid minutes working on my novel without hating it.

And that’s all I’ve wanted for the last month.

Something to cure overwhelm and a clear idea of the changes required. No matter how long it will take and how much effort it requires.

Don’t worry series; I’m in it for the long haul.

2 responses to “Blocks in Editing a Series

  1. I’m so glad that someone else struggles with editing! This makes me feel so much better, as I’ve recently been doing the same – avoiding edits because I know there’s big issues to fix. Thought it was just me!
    What’s the book you mention? Might have to try and get myself a copy!

    • No, you’re definitely not alone! And I’ve actually now “finished scene one” and I refuse to go back and re-read it until I’ve edited the rest of chapter five – else I’ll never finish the actual line edit due to that first scene!
      The book’s “Editor-proof your writing” by Don McNair. I’m about 8 chapters in now and I have mixed feelings about it’s usefulness. But the idea of just focusing on one aspect in one scene was enough for me to apply “What do we need to know about X topic/big change” in THIS SCENE? Right now. Not much? Good. Add in snippets and get the reader wondering.

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