Conjuring the editing world, fixing it in your mind

Hey, so here we are again.  Another successful NaNoWriMo is behind me, and now I’m working on editing the book I was working on before November.  Its title is still in flux; indeed, a lot of things are still in flux, though the basic structure and details are intact.

For some reason, I’m having trouble settling down into the rhythms of editing, or even identifying what they’re supposed to be.  This is an interesting conundrum for someone who’s done a whole hell of a lot of editing in his career.  It’s not so much big-picture stuff, as I have the plot in place– probably those dozen chapters are not going to change drastically, though there might be a new chapter or two cropping up in there to fill in some details.  No, it’s these individual plot threads and details that need to be nailed down… does it make sense that this character is doing this, and does the arc work throughout the book?  Does this theme get developed enough?  Are your futuristic details consistent?  (Oh yeah, it takes place around 2040.)

There’s a fairly regular danger of getting bogged down in too much interesting “research,” reading books and articles, while not tinkering enough with the main text.  Tinkering, editing, changing, is not immersion in the story in the way that the original writing is.  It’s immersion in the words, the jacket the story’s wearing, the skin, the surface.  Very easy to get distracted by other things, like the thought of writing shiny new words for some other story, or doing something like playing a video game with its already-constructed world ready to embrace you.

I say this approaching the end of a long weekend with disappointingly little progress to show in the book, as December trudges on with or without my consent.  I think the trick might be immersion, still, thinking back to the NaNoWriMo experience still so fresh in my mind.  But that immersion in the book must be built around it, in the spaces of my life, the time not already claimed by work or sleep.

So, how to build that immersion?  Appropriate music could help, tied to the environments of the story, conjuring that mood that evokes the world of the book.  But sound can easily be lost or broken– images need to be there too.  Images that remind me of Kamukamp, the city that is the setting of the book, and the offices and homes involved in the story, and also the fictional game world that comes into play.  And visual representations of the plot flow, that might also keep me thinking about all those steps and twists and turns between beginning and ending.

Above all, it’s about keeping the book fixed in my mind.  Whatever the tricks, whatever the shortcuts to that mental focus.  Because I think in editing, just like in writing, only when you’re fully engaged in that story, when you daydream about it, when you dream about it, when it keeps hiding around the corners of your thoughts– only then can you start really jamming.

Author: Jeff Deck

Author and administrator of this site.