Even though I’m currently on a reading tour, I’ve been spending my evenings working hard on editing (and illustrating) Kendra Kandlestar and the Search for Arazeen.
I’m at that critical process where I’ve actually printed out the manuscript and am reading it the old-fashioned way, in advance of handing it over to my editor.
I do this with each book, and each time I get to this point, I ask myself the same question: “Do I really need to print it out?” After all, I’ve usually edited the manuscript on screen a dozen times by this point. But, every time I’m surprised at how many serious edits I make at this stage.
So, while it may not be so good for the trees, it’s very good for achieving a better story. Personally, I believe it’s because I’m away from the distraction of my computer screen, and all those pesky red or green squiggly lines telling me that “Trooogul” is not a word and that he has atrocious grammar. (And, yes, I know I can make a custom dictionary . . . but it never seems to be able to keep up with all my character names and their various ways of expressing themselves. Such is the downside of creating your own fantasy world.)
In the case of The Search for Arazeen, I have found myself resculpting a few key scenes during this round of editing. One of these scenes is a critical moment between Kendra and her main antagonist in the novel, Shuuunga, the Unger witch. This scene is a tricky one, as it needs to accomplish a great many things in terms of character development and plot.
I found myself getting a little stuck while editing this scene. As it happened, I had some of the drawings alongside my binder, so I ended up migrating over to one of the illustrations and began sketching anew. Before I knew it—ta da! I had ironed out the wrinkles in the scene.
Of course, I usually draw as part of the brainstorming process, but this might be the first time I’ve ever drawn my way out of conundrum encountered during the editing stage.
In any case, the technique seems to have worked. Of course, my editor may well disagree once she gets her hands on the manuscript. But that’s a battle for another day . . .