Saturday, March 12, 2011

My Novel's Journey: Mind Over Matter edits

Sorry this is late, but I did finish the backwards edit on Mind Over Mind.

Incidentally, I'm changing the title (publisher approving, of course) to Mind Over Psyche because it fits the plot better. I'd like to use Mind Over Matter for last one, I think.

What's a backwards edit? You start with the last sentence of the manuscript, read and evaluate it, make changes. Then you read the next to the last sentence, evaluate and make changes. Then the one before that... You keep going until the first sentence of the manuscript.

So why edit backwards?

It forces you to look at each sentence on its own merit.
It keeps you from getting caught up in the plot.
It stops your mind from filling in blanks based on context.
It lets you look at a sentence for language use rather than mere utility.
Sometimes, you catch logical disconnects that you didn't see reading forwards.

Here are a couple of examples:

Man, did I use the words "suddenly" and "just" a lot. Neither I nor my critiquers (save one) notice when caught in the plot, but when backwards, I realized I'd used it several times on one page.

I caught a lot of passive voice. Taking the sentences out of context made me more aware of passive voice (was, is are) and progressive (am doing, was doing). Many times, I could cut those. Ditto for adverbs.

I realized that I had Deryl riding a unicorn BEFORE he put his clothes back on. Lady Godiva, he is not! Changed that.

I found places I could add more foreshadowing.

I discovered one place where I headhopped. It was seemless when reading it forward, but jarring backward.

I made a lot of sentences stronger.

Old: He was aware, too, or how hard Tasmae had hit him and how much his neck and throat ached.

New: His neck throbbed from Tasmae's choking and his head with it.

I also had the joy of realizing that I love this book just as much backward as forward. When I can say that, I know I've done well!

Now, I have to put in the changes. The manuscript is 98,350 words. What do you think it will be when I'm done?

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