Last week I posted about how nice it was to receive edits on a novel you haven’t worked on in a while. And it is nice from the viewpoint of not being too attached to your golden (silver… brassy… well, black and white) words. How free of stress the suggestion to change your prose is when you haven’t gone over and over it recently, trying to make it perfect.
But, of course, there is a difficulty. Once we get past the change-a-sentence-here, change-a-sentence-there stuff, we come to edits that require knowledge of the scene. And I have to admit that after a year away from the novel, I don’t remember every detail of every scene perfectly.
For example, my editor wanted me to change a scene, and when it came time to consider what to do about the scene, I thought I had the fix. Basically, Mailee’s and Eric’s clothes were wet and they probably should change them. No problem. I’d make a simple change and have Eric grab clothes for himself and Mailee from his room and they would both change.
Oh, wait. As I read the scene, then the beginning of the chapter, I realized that they weren’t at his apartment. They were at her mom’s house. Well, that posed a bigger problem, since he wasn’t going to have any clothes there to change into (I might have considered him wearing her clothes if he wasn’t huge and she wasn’t tiny 😉 ), him leaving to get clothes would destroy the scene, and her changing when he hadn’t didn’t make any sense because they were going to spend the rest of the scene cuddling. Oops.
Later on, my editor reminded me that Mailee’s hand was hurt, and she should react that way in the current scene. I was preeeeetty sure her hand was hurt from punching someone, but I had to read everything in between those scenes to make sure that that was all. Mailee’s a little accident prone, so there were plenty of other reasons she could have hurt her hand, but, nope, I was right and it was the punching.
Of course, there are some things that you’re going to have to reread and reread no matter how long ago you worked on it. I was adding in a bunch of world-building mythology into the novel, and I had to make sure I didn’t contradict anything that is vital to the plot. Mailee has a week to perform her quest, so I had to make sure the week was included in the mythology. And then I debated whether or not I really needed that week. Wouldn’t it be simpler to lose it? Oh, but, wait, the week was needed because someone had started the quest before, and I needed to explain why everything went back to square one when he didn’t finish.
And I probably would have remembered most of the mythology even with the distance. I mean, it’s the reason the plot follows along the way it does. But it’s the details that I worry about, and so the distance must be crossed so I can gain a new familiarity with this novel that I once knew every word of. Well, maybe not every word, but I sure would have known that they were at Mailee’s house, not Eric’s. 😉
Lots of love,