Bob and Mike and I were having a discussion1 on the Twitter yesterday, kibitzing about editing, and hating it, and avoiding it, and how each of us does manage to do it in those rare times when we're inclined2. We pledged to swap photos of our works-in-progress, so here goes...
All hail the mighty tome. This hunk of dead tree3 is my 2011 manuscript from NaNoWriMo, currently entitled The Balled of Congo Willy, a sort-of-lighthearted romp through middle age, ennui, death, and video games. Doesn't it look tidy? That's because I have children, and I learned the hard way that a large stack of loose paper sitting around is an invitation to unstack it by whatever means necessary.
I use the Rollabind system4 to keep all the sheets together, though I could just as easily use a 3-ring-binder system. This is a bit more compact, since you can fold the page back like a spiral-bound book. Cover material is salvage from old reports at work, and the first page is my page-and-word count checklist. Looks like I have around 240 pages to edit. Whoo boy. Better get started.
Start at the beginning, and when you get to the end: stop
Because I have all this paper sitting around over the course of November, I had to come up with A System, because I enjoy that sort of thing, and because I know I need to hit six to eight pages a day during NaNo. These are my page numbers: day.page As you flick through the draft, you'll see 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, etc., and then 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, etc.. I know that normal people would just use normal page numbers, but I'm. Not. Normal.
Bring out the pens
Oh yeah, baby, that's what I'm talking about. Bring that nib over here.
Drawing right on the draft. Why else would you double-space? This year I might even use the triple-space option to give me more room. I tend to move a lot of stuff around, referencing earlier parts of the draft or leaving notes for the rewrite. Grammar gets cleared up here, but spelling waits until it goes digital.
No one will be seated during the dramatic cow-pooping scene
Despite all my pre-planning and card-making and muse-baiting, there's always a scene or section that takes me by surprise. This year it involved a game of "Bessie Bingo" that goes horribly, horribly wrong. This scene is pretty crappy right now5, but even the "good" scenes look like this in the MS: ink everywhere, passages excised or moved, but nothing obliterated in case I want to go back and mine it later.
So, that's the WIP so far. I've actually broken my own system to read the last third of the draft without edits, as things resolved themselves differently than I expected, and the plot took a couple of turns that impact earlier stuff. I wanted to reacquaint myself with those changes and see how they stand, now that there's a couple of months of distance between me and this draft.
Mr. Speegle? Mr. Skrezyna? Whatchoo got?
1 A Twitter "discussion" being mostly poo jokes and lame "that's what she said" innuendo
2 That's what she said
3 Sugarcane, actually, which I wrote about pre-Nano
4 Available cheaply at Staples as their "ARC" system now
5 Hur hur hur poo joke hur hur
6 This is not a footnote