So I’m writing a science fiction romance novel. About every two weeks now I post an update on my progress and what I’m planning to work on next. For more info about where I’m at with my book and what’s in it, check out my earlier update posts here and here.
For the last two weeks, my goal has been to work on editing/formatting for part two, which consists of about 11,500 words. My satisfaction level with completeness for part one was at about 90% when I left off with that section, so I was aiming for about the same confidence with completeness in part two. I’m not sure I’ll ever be 100% satisfied with anything I ever write (anyone else have that problem where you look back on something you’ve written even a few days before and there’s always something that makes you cringe?), so I think 90% satisfaction is a good goal at this point, which I think is the last round through before final edits.
Did I reach my goal?
More or less. My long-standing general dislike for all things sequel (with a few notable exceptions) has morphed into a general dislike of all things related to the number 2, so even though I actually like a lot of things about this second section, I went into it kind of reluctantly and struggled to engage with it as much as part one. But I did get all the way through every chapter in part two at least once, added the two character memories I wanted to include in this part to help build characterization, and I’m more pleased with the result than I thought I would be.
Whenever I’ve gone back to do edits previously, I worked hard for about 50 pages (which puts me about a third of the way into part two) and then I got distracted and thought of some other part I wanted to work on farther in, so I was afraid this part would need a lot of editing, which also made me more reluctant to work on it. There are a couple of spots still that I’ve made note of wanting to go back through and improve wording, but I did make a start on that and think I need a little distance from it before I can figure out how to get it exactly where I want it to be. This is about the same level that I’m at with the first part, so yeah, I’d say I ended up at about 90% satisfaction. I feel a lot better about this part than I started out, and I have between 60 and 70 pages now at the beginning of my novel that I would feel pretty good about sending on to my friend for an early look through.
There’s nothing actually bad about part two that should make me reluctant to work on it. I like the writing better in this section, actually, than even some spots of the first part, which I think needs to be the strongest when I send in my manuscript. It’s just that the second part is more emotional, and I’m more concerned about making sure the reader can connect to the characters and that all the love/tragedy feels hit in the right places. But it can’t be so intense that it turns readers away from the story or gives the wrong impressions about what the story’s about. So while I’m pretty happy about where the book starts and how the characters move on in part three, part two is such a balancing act that it makes me reluctant to touch it at all. I’m still worried about it, but not as much as I was going in.
And where am I going next?
My goal for the next two weeks is to reach the same level with part 3. I think this one’s closer to 10,000 words, but I know I have more work to do on this one than simple edits. I’ll have to adjust the formatting of the entire section to match the chapter divides that I worked out for parts one and two, which will also mean making sure that each chapter only focuses on one perspective. When I started writing, I wanted an omniscient narrator who could move easily between the thoughts of each of the main characters, but since I’ve been going back through I’ve decided to divide character focus by chapter. Some of these are pretty short (I actually really like short chapters anyway) because sometimes there’s only a small piece I want to make sure I include from someone’s perspective, but it will still mean a lot more editing for a part I haven’t divided this way before. Also, I’ll want to add another memory like the ones I’ve been working on in part two, which means there will be some new writing being added into this section.
Honestly I haven’t worked on part three in a while. I don’t remember for sure if all the plot points are fully written in yet (although I’m pretty confident that the structure of events is all in place), so I think I’ll have a little more work to do here than just the editing I’ve been focusing on in the earlier sections, but I’ll also want to go through and make edits once all the writing is in place. It’ll be a little bigger task, but I’m more excited about part three, so I’m up to the challenge.
I titled part two “Adaptation,” if anyone’s curious.
Do you let your own worries get in the way of your writing like I do? How do you cope with the pressure you put on yourself for the work to turn out a certain way?
I’d love to chat more with you about writing in the comments, if you’re in the middle of a project of your own. Good luck, fellow writers!
The Literary Elephant