Editing: The Videogame (Levels 1-3)

I don’t think I announced this momentous event on my blog, so here it is:

I finished the current draft of my Great Novel/Work In Progress!!!!!

(about three weeks ago)

Disclaimer: The novel is not about jungle or African savannah animals.

After 2 years of wrestling with the alligators known as plot and character, I think I have a solid third draft.

While finishing a draft is exciting, it is somewhat anti-climatic when looking at the long road before presenting it to society.

Steps Since Finishing:

1. Stared into space, thinking, “Am I really done with this draft?”

2. Stepped away from it for one week, forcing myself to dabble into other projects and try to read other books.

(Most people recommend waiting a month before diving back in.  This way re-reading is more objective.  Good idea, but I am currently too impatient.)

3. Re-read all 90,000ish words (and, considering draft 2 was approximately 250,000 words, this number is nice and friendly.)

4. Prepped it for editing.

I think of this as sanding down a wood surface, removing imperfections, filling any missing gaps, and preparing for a careful, even polish.  Often, while I’m writing, I’ll make notes to myself in brackets, such as [how did they end up here?], [describe in more detail], [fix this piece of dialogue later], etc.  This was the time to get rid of those.

5. Separated the draft into pieces of 500 words (approximately one single-spaced, letter-sized page).  This gives me smaller pieces to look at along the way, make sure the page is as polished as possible, and then move on to the next.

After timing this process, I realized it takes an average of 30 minutes per 500 words (I may be faster now, but haven’t re-timed… because 30 minutes is easy math).  Here’s my estimation:

90,000 words ÷ 500 words per page = 180 single-spaced pages ÷ 1/2 hour per page = [INSERT DRUMROLL]

90 hours to edit/polish the novel.

90 hours is a long time.

It is:

  • Slightly less than four days.
  • 5400 minutes.
  • 36 commutes to work.
  • 630 hours in dog years.
  • The same amount of time it took me to defeat Final Fantasy 12.

Given this last fact, I decided to approach editing like a video game.  Everything is better with levels to earn, points to gather, and achievements to unlock.

So, without further ado…

Editing: The Videogame

Level 1 – The Plot 

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13 thoughts on “Editing: The Videogame (Levels 1-3)

  1. Congrats on finishing the draft, and ‘gaming’ something is *always* a good way to get motivated. Just don’t forget to save often, and pack extra health potions. It’s a long way back to town once you get in there . . .

    • That is some excellent advice.
      I actually do save often – just in fear the word program suddenly crashes on my tablet. It’s as terrifying as accidentally entering an area where you’re not supposed to be for another fifty levels.

  2. Congratulations on completing your draft! I’m nearly halfway through a draft of my novel, but I’m definitely in tht dark mapless place at the moment…
    I LOVE that you compared the editing process to video games. So true!

  3. Posts like this make me giddy with joy, because I love the intersection of videogames and writing. Congrats on getting to 90,000. I’m trying to cut my manuscript a bit. I’m at 117,000 and am in cutting mode. I never thought about making a videogame for the book, but I’ll consider that now!

    • It’s funny how often word count is the opposite of getting points – No! I want less!
      117,000 isn’t too bad, though. As I mentioned, my previous draft was 250,000ish – far, far too long. I had to gut the whole draft and take it back down to just the framework before rebuilding.

  4. That is such an awesome (and creative) way to describe the editing process! It’s interesting to see the way you broke it down. And I did like the bonus items. 😉

  5. I can’t wait to read your book! If I ever manage to discipline myself enough to get through a second draft of one my stories, that would be something. You, however, are a conqueror! Congrats!

    • I’ve still got to finish this edit-through, then I should be ready for Beta readers – It’s very exciting.

      With writing, you have to be Dorie and “Just keep swimming”

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