How to Edit a Novel (if You’re Rowan McBride)

Note: This blog was originally published on my MySpace blog, August 18, 2007.


Scan through all the colored notes your editor inserted into what you had erroneously thought was a clean manuscript. Try not to have flashback of insane elementary school teacher as you look at all that red.

Scroll up to beginning of file. Take deep breath. Get up to snag a glass of water.

Begin reading manuscript. As you hit first set of suggested edits, declare aloud that the editor is nuts.

Anywhere from 5 seconds to 10 minutes later, realize that—damn!—the editor is probably right.

Get through fifteen pages. Totally rewrite six different paragraphs. As you’re staring at the online thesaurus looking for yet another word for “fire,” switch screens abruptly to write a poem. Post poem on blog.

Stare at manuscript. Decide that the episode of Bleach you’ve seen two times already is more important. Switch to Cartoon Network. Drool over Ishida.

Check blog to see if it’s gotten any comments.

At around two in the morning, tell yourself that you’re doing your manuscript and yourself a favor by getting some sleep.

Repeat this ritual more or less verbatim for the next three days.

On the fourth day (around page 52) drop everything to draw a fairly decent picture of Sasuke from Naruto.

Rework three paragraphs in a row. Check DeviantArt page to see if Sasuke pic got any comments or faves.

After another ten pages, get up to snag another glass of ice water. Wonder briefly if you’re getting enough water, down that glass and refill it. As you walk by your desk, you spot your scrapbook and note that you still haven’t pasted in the reviews for Just Wait. You’ve already put them on your site, but you haven’t printed them up yet and you really should—

You shake the thought away and sit down to your manuscript.

Check blog. Check DeviantArt account. Check email. Watch Bleach.

Decide that your scrapbook is taunting you. Stay strong. Spend a good ten minutes trying to figure out which Sins belong to which characters in Full Metal Alchemist. You’ve got five of them pinned down, but which one belongs to Mustang? You wonder if you should Google it.

Realize with a start how much time has passed since you started this damned thing. Realize you’ll never get to write your uber cool royal alien rock star yaoi story if you don’t finish your revisions. Realize if you don’t finish your revisions, Paul’s Dream will never be published, and your manga addiction is gonna hurt.


Finally buckle down.

You read. You focus. You fall into a depression because your freaking novel SUCKS.

You’re too action oriented when you write. You don’t have enough internal dialogue. You don’t vary your sentence structure enough. You certainly don’t have enough emotion. And why is this section so poorly written?

Revise. Revise. Revise.

Try to teach yourself new ways to write things on the fly. Hit the halfway point in the novel. Ignore scrapbook. Skip dinner.

After reading a while, wonder why this half reads so much easier than the first half. Begin to worry.


What made me think I could ever be a writer?

Shake off doubt. Keep reading and revising. Fall in love with characters all over again. Remember that you have two sequels planned and smile.

Reach last line in manuscript. Imagine what your cover might look like. Stretch your sore muscles, then jump up to watch the Naruto hundo marathon thing on CN. Help yourself to the ice cream you bought just because one of your characters adores it.

Relax. Swear you’ll write a blog about the entire ordeal.

Eat your ice cream, and feel pretty good.

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