The FINAL Final Final Edit

Last month I completed a 6th draft of my first novel, the fantasy adventure tale of a dragon’s unlikely partnership with a group of ragtag adventurers. Six drafts of the novel over two years is hardly a small commitment, and these characters and their journey have become a major driving force in my life. They have provided a creative outlet for my frustrations, fears and desires, and  hopefully will become the first of many dreams to take wing in this crazy and competitive world.

Their maiden flight is fast approaching, for today begins the final final FINAL edit of this manuscript. Today I begin a run through of tweaking and edits, hardly the overhaul the story received during the last draft where I must have re-written some fifty percent of the book. It was no easy task, but that overhaul was just what I needed to re-ignite my passion for this story, and through its labor, it gave me the strength to keep going.

Now the draft is more or less done. We just need to do a little editing.

That has become sort of a running joke between my cohorts and I. We thought this book was wrapped on draft 3.

Somewhere far away you can hear someone laughing.

After that came two more drafts and my hire of an editor. After speaking with her however more flaws in the story were revealed to me, many of them things I already acknowledged but stubbornly refused to change. If you recall some of my posts from last year, there was talk of a pre-final edit final edit. Little did we know that hiring that editor was the beginning of another draft.

Thankfully the drafts are done, and now it is time to just do some edits.

Editing for me has been one of the quickest but also most fun parts of the writing process. It’s very gratifying to have a completed book in front of you, for its flaws are laid bare. Fixing those flaws is just a question of what kind of waltz you want to do on the keyboard.

I once compared writing to archeology, and this still rings true for editing. Editing is when you have a map of the ancient temple, leaving you to decide which route best be taken to reach the treasure. Well, now we have a map, and it is a good one with many interesting choices. I would say we have a nice clear path to the loot, but there are a few minor pitfalls to avoid. Fortunately, those pitfalls don’t involve going into another tunnel altogether. We just need to have a sidestep or two.

Before my last draft, I had many problems with the story that I was worried the audience wouldn’t be able to accept. In my tunnel vision I failed to see those were extensions of my own issues with my work. During this last draft I made a list and checked out each of those problems one at a time. I still have a list now, but that list is decidedly shorter. Usually I can plow through a chapter or more in a day during the editing process. To that end, I don’t expect this final run through of the book to take more than twenty days.

Come the month of May, completed manuscript in hand, I continue a quest I attempted last year. I will start searching for an agent. This time it will be different though. The book will be better, the prose more precise, the characters better rounded and the story more complete. Hopefully that will be enough to turn a few more heads.

I don’t expect the coming slew of rejection letters to weigh lightly on my spirit, but I’ve come too far to give up now.

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