So far, I’ve edited my novel differently every time I’ve started a new draft. The first time I printed the manuscript out piece by piece and attacked it with a red pen. The second time I just tidied up a little wording here and there without printing, trying to get the manuscript below 110,000 words.
This time, however, I’ve kept a notebook detailing changes to be made chapter-by-chapter, occasionally writing extra notes at the tops of pages and in the margins for things to fix in a later draft as I’ve already passed that particular point in the story in the current one. Also, unlike the first two sets of edits where the focus was cutting all the irrelevant sections, this time I’m making it nicer to read and easier to understand. As a result, the wordcount is ballooning again. I don’t think there has been a single chapter where the latest draft has been shorter than the one before. I’ve added extra little scenes describing more of my main characters neuroses, which weren’t exactly clear in previous drafts. He was far too happy all the time, which didn’t really fit the character, considering everything he’s already been through before the story began.
This is my first novel so I suppose I’ll settle into some kind of method later but for now I’m just going with what feels like an interesting idea. A number of ways I do things have remained the same from draft to draft: I work chronologically, I cringe whenever I notice overuse of the word ‘probably’, and my main character continues to become grumpier and grumpier with each passing draft.
Aside from those, and perhaps a few minor things that I don’t pay attention to, nothing is set in stone. I’ve looked at the different ‘methods’ for writing and editing, none of which particularly appeal to me. I’m not a ‘pantser’ per se, as I like to have some kind of idea where I’m going, but I’m not an ‘outliner’ either. I don’t need to know beforehand how many arguments my main character has with the love interest, or when exactly the werewolf in the story loses his temper at someone. I keep some kind of idea where my characters are going and what they’re looking for, but the little things are up for grabs. I don’t think I could ever pre-plan everything, nor could I begin a story with little to no idea what’s going to happen from chapter to chapter.
I also don’t go by a specific editing technique. If I see something I don’t like, I fix it, even if said unlikable thing may be a part of a scene I later remove entirely, defeating the purpose of making it read better. I don’t mind. It’s good practise.
I’d be interested in hearing about other writers’ writing and editing styles to see how different methods work out for different people. I can see the draw of being a ‘pantser’ and an ‘outliner’ and I’d like to hear other people’s opinions on the topic.