Sunday, January 30, 2011

Novel revelations

I had a revelation about my novel the other day. It was while I was doing something else though - polishing up an article for a pitch to The Age (the Melbourne broadsheet, we'll see, fingers crossed).

I wrote the article, 640 words, in about 2 hours, but then spent at least another hour tidying it up, making it catchier, taking out all the cliched phrases and all that. As I added the final touches and sent it off to the editor, I thought, 'Cripes, if I just spent that long editing a 640-word article, how much work has to be done on my novel??'

That was one part of the revelation - how much work there will still be once I've finished it! (Say my novel comes out at around 60 000 words, at 1 hour per 640 words, that's 94 hours, = 4 days, or 12 working days!)

The other part was: all those parts that are a bit crap now are going to be so much better after a decent edit!

Kind of daunting and comforting at the same time.

[Word count for this week, 470, but I've still got a Sunday arvo up my sleeve...]


  1. OH I so can relate!!! I submitted (fingers crossed too!!) a 584 word story to 100Stories for Queensland and it took me erm.. DAYS!!!! Days!!!! of re-writes/edits etc!! Days!!! LOL!!!!

    So you are doing ever so well!!!! Yay!!

    GOOD LUCK with your submission too!!!!!! I have everything crossed - legs, arms, eyes..!!

    Take care

  2. Thanks Old Kitty. And good luck to you too! I'm sure all those edits made a difference.

  3. Hope you managed to hit the 700 words.

    Honestly, if you manage to edit your novel in twelve working days I think that would be stupendously fast. I have never edited a long manuscript myself but I gather from reading author interviews that these things take months. There must be some kind of exponential relationship between the length of a document and the length of time it takes to edit it. Chin up though, it will be totally worth it I'm sure.

  4. I think my editing time was three times that! Not to scare you - sounds like you progress at a faster rate than me.

  5. Helen - I know, when I thought about it, two weeks isn't much!

    I suppose that's where plot, sub-plots, character development etc. come in. These aren't all usually present in a 640 word article! (Though they could be..)

  6. Alex - nice thought about my rate of progress, but I somehow doubt it!

  7. I know, it's a nightmare trying to think in terms of time required/the amount of editing/all the numbers (!); I've so far been pretending that my 'novel' (it's so not even a foetus yet) is a series of short stories that happen to be chronological and about the same thing so I don't freak out.

    By the by, I've just done a re-jig of my blog and you are sat v happily on my blogroll; any chance, if you like my blog, you could add me to yours? Don't worry if not.


    Lyndsay Wheble

  8. Lyndsay - of course, have added you just now.

    Sounds like you have a good plan for coping with the massiveness that is trying to write a novel!
    It's interesting the different ways people manage it.

    Good luck with it!

  9. You know what? That maths might just freak you out. (Hopefully it'll keep you sane instead, but as a benchmark I fear it's on the low side.) My advice is to not sweat on any numbers at all. Relax. You can't tell how much editing any piece will take. You might decide on a major structural edit. You might get to a point where you hate an entire sub-plot or character and decide to remove it altogether. You might just breeze on through and replace a colon here and there. None of us has any idea at the start. Or the middle, for the matter. But editing is a good thing, and part of the process. Set the ms aside for a few weeks or even months and then read it with fresh eyes. The simple joy of finding and changing a word you suddenly realise you use on every second page cannot be underestimated. So good luck!

  10. Kelly G - thanks for stopping by, and thanks for some sound advice - 'just relax'! Think I should write the thing before I worry too much about editing..