My Editing Progress: The Cogsmith’s Daughter

I am currently halfway through editing the first draft of my first novel, The Cogsmith’s Daughter. As many of you know, I wrote the novel in 30 days, during NaNoWriMo 2014. I took December off to rest and gain some emotional distance, and I began the editing process on the fifth of January.

Because there are about a gazillion definitions of “editing,” let me tell you exactly what I have been doing. Basically, I am reading the chapters one by one and looking for several areas to fix. At the highest level, I am tracking the pace of my novel and the plot structure. At the middle level, I am ensuring that my character descriptions, character personalities, setting descriptions, and world rules are consistent. At the lowest level, I am re-structuring confusing sentences, fixing poor word choice, and correcting any typos I happen to notice. For more details, you can see my full editing plan here.

Right now, I am going through the printed manuscript with red pen and physically writing in my notes. At the latest, I intend to be finished with this part the first week of February. The next step will be diving into the Scrivener document and re-writing/fixing everything on the computer. After that…well, let’s get through the self-editing for now.

So far, I have a lot of mixed feelings about the editing process. However, I am enjoying it and have already learned quite a bit about myself as a writer. To put it simply:

What I Like About Editing

  • It reminds me of being in my university creative writing classes.
  • It allows me to use skills from college.
  • It’s really fun to read my story and see it from “the outside.”
  • Knowing that I am actively improving my novel makes me very happy and excited.

What I Dislike About Editing

  • It can be tedious.
  • It’s not as fun as writing.
  • It forces me to acknowledge my shortcomings.
  • It takes away time from my other (more fun) creative activities.

What I Have Learned About Myself as a Writer (Pros)

  • I write very cleanly. I’ve only found a handful of glaring typos.
  • I am skilled at making sure that every scene progresses the plot and every chapter ends on a cliffhanger or important moment.
  • The dialogue I write is nearly always clever and frequently funny. At least, to me.
  • I will definitely have enough creativity, universe, and story left to write the next five books I intend for the series.

What I have Learned About Myself as a Writer (Cons)

  • When I write actions after dialogue, I have a bad habit of using the wrong punctuation and treating them like tag lines.
  • When I write descriptive paragraphs in the middle of a chapter, I have a tendency to use passive voice and do too much “telling.”
  • Related, I need to add in more scenes to show/explain the rules of the world I created. Having the characters discuss these are not powerful enough.
  • I cannot write a new first draft while I edit another manuscript. This is both due to time constraints and the fact that editing involves me too much in one world (and admittedly shakes my confidence from time to time). I’m hoping this will change as I gain experience as a writer and editor.

Undoubtedly, as I practice my writing and editing skills, I will learn even more of my individual writer truths. My biggest fear right now is that I will do my rewrite, feel incredibly confident, and then have a professional editor and beta readers rip apart everything I thought I did right. I know I won’t be able to catch everything, and of course I want an editor to push me and provide a strong critique (otherwise what am I paying for?), but I must admit, it’s a scary process.

However, for now, all I have to do is focus on the rest of my self-editing process. (If you can’t tell, I have a tendency to get too caught up in the next steps.) One chapter at a time, careful and steady. Only fourteen chapters to go!

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11 thoughts on “My Editing Progress: The Cogsmith’s Daughter

    • Kate M. Colby says:

      It’s not a real word. It is a fictional occupation that I made up for my novel. The genre falls under steampunk (among a few other subcategories). Steampunk is all about mechanical devices that run from steam. A “cogsmith,” therefore, is my term for someone who works on these machines. In the same way that a goldsmith works with gold, in my world, a cogsmith works with cogs and machines. I hope that clears things up. Thank you for asking! I’m sure you aren’t the only one who has been wondering.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Rochelle Deans says:

    You’re doing fantastic! Getting through 40,000-ish words in three weeks is so impressive. I know it sucks at the time, but the way you’re being honest with yourself about who you are as a writer will be so helpful in the long run. I’m sure it’s obvious, but I prefer editing to writing. However, I still get moments when I write in the margins “Write better.”

    As to working on a new MS, I’ve found that I can brainstorm the next one as I edit. When I’m working on paper, my mind wanders more and occasionally comes across a great tidbit to help in my next book. Have you been able to do any of that?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kate M. Colby says:

      Thanks, Rochelle. I really appreciate your encouragement. As a matter of fact, I have been able to do some good brainstorming for my next manuscripts. I have the next one I intend to write entirely plotted out, and I have made a little thinking progress on manuscript #3, too. Thanks again for reading and staying in touch! I’ll be crossing over to your world of professional editors in a month or so. Scary, but exciting, progress!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Whitney says:

    Aren’t we all our best and worst critics? My only weakness is that I tend to play the editor while I’m still the writer. Need to keep those separate!

    In the meantime, I’ve officially nominated you for the Sisterhood of the World Blogger Award! Thanks for helping me feel like a part of the writing community. I really mean it—you’re super inspiring. I know you’ve already received this award, but I had to nominate you again. Read my post to accept if you so choose. Happy weekend!https://witandtravesty.wordpress.com/2015/01/29/we-accept-cheers-to-our-first-blogger-award/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kate M. Colby says:

      The only way I can shut out my internal editor while writing is if I write really fast. Of course, that typically results in a little extra work for the editor later, but it lets me get the draft out at least.

      Thank you for the nomination! As I said on your post, I will update my award to include your nomination and questions. I really appreciate all the wonderful things you said. I’ll probably be blushing all morning!

      Like

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