Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Unstructured Approach to Structuring

Editing - how I love it, and hate it, and feel everything in between for it. The editing for main wip is going...on some days I might say it's going well, but on other days, like today, it's just going.

However that is not a deterrent by any means because every weakness or every problem found now is something that I won't have to deal with later, and certainly not something that an agent or a publisher will ever get to see. So I am okay with finding faults. Faults are fixable.

My key concern is structure. Overall the structure is solid - but the problem is that there are several places in the second half of the book where I need to add new scenes. I am not exactly sure what scenes, and I am not exactly sure where, but I know that some additional requirement is needed, and I also know that some scenes could use other scenes in betwee them to make the transition smoother.

Initially I was going chapter by chapter. For first nine chapters it was okay, because they don't need anything added, and they don't need any structural changes. (I hope). Chapter 10 was so-so, but it was because of Chapter 11 that Chapter 10 came under the whole kaboom of change.

So there I was, looking at Chapter 11, staring and staring, and wondering what should go where, and it all seemed just so hopeless, and annoying, because I just wanted to do the damn edit, not wonder about what I should do. Then I looked at Chapter 10 and Chapter 12, because they had to link with Chapter 11, and while I was at it, I looked at Chapter 13 too. Then just for the convinience of looking at it easily, I pasted it all in one document, and started playing with it. And selecting things that I definitely wanted to keep (only looking at plot points here, not necessarily exact words). It was still quite frustrating not knowing what to add.

So just for the hell of it, I copied remaining chapters in a second document, and as I was doing it, the light bulb went off. This unstructured approach is the way to move forward, at least for now.

What I have done now is to combine both documents which is about 40000 words. I am going through it in completely unstructure manner, at random, selecting what I definitely want to keep, editing what catches my eye, and making note where new scenes could be inserted. While usually more orderly method is more efficient, I feel that in this instance, because I need to be aware of the whole picture rather than one scene, it is better to treat the whole second half as one, because if I add a new scene somewhere, it won't just affect the scene after it, but perhaps another scene which is no where around it. This approach is also making the editing slightly more fun and not nearly as frustrating because I am not endlessly staring at one screen, not knowing how to move.

This has also taught me an important lesson: there is no such thing as edit-proof. This WIP was written with an outine, and there are actually no plot holes, and yet I feel the need to add the new material because it will make the book stronger. It's the kind of stuff that one can't plan for. So the control freak in me just have to work with the chaos.


  1. Oh girl! You sound just like me! I'm going through the exact same thing right now. Sounds like you found a good solution. I may have to try that ;o)

    Good luck! Thanks for sharing ;o)

  2. Thanks Erica :-) Good luck with your editing.

  3. I've actually done this too! But I ended up printing the whole mess out because it was easier to move things around that way. :-)

  4. That's my next step. I thought I better first do what I can on the screen, so then when I print it, it should be slightly better at least.

  5. That's why I like to "interrogate" the manuscript while I write it, that is, take notes and ask important questions about what? where? and why? the characters do one thing or the other or where do I go next. Those questions can be very helpful in editing/re-writing as well. I you can't be scared of the answers that pop up either.

  6. Ralfast,

    That is a great approach. It's something I have done at the outline stage with this WIP, unfortunately by the time I got to end of the book, lots of new ideas had popped up. That's not bad of course, but it does cause some chaos.

    I am experimenting writing slow with my new WIP so with this I am asking the questions as I write. Let's see how that goes in terms of structure.