Editing: the ‘What Was I Thinking?’ Stage

This week I’ve spent a good chunk of time (in between a hectic schedule of work, colouring books and murder mystery TV shows) on editing the draft of my next novel.

It’s recommended practice to take a break from your draft before coming back to it for the editing process. This helps you to see it with fresh eyes and the mind of a reader rather than just that of a writer.

It also leads to some surprises. There may be lines you don’t remember writing at all. Maybe a character does something highly unexpected and you wonder what on earth you were thinking when you wrote that.

I found such a line this week and rather than quickly delete it and obscure the horror, I thought I’d share it with you all instead! Here it is:

“She paused, and folded down the page corner of the book she had been reading.”

This is one of the major characters of the novel. One of my favourite characters, in fact. And I know it’s good to give your characters flaws to make them more interesting, but really? I can think of plenty of readers off the top of my head who would want her chased out of the pages of the novel by an angry mob for this desecration of even an imaginary book!

I know when I’ve gone too far. I’m going to have to find my character something she can use as a bookmark. And I’ll find some other personality defect to give her depth: something readers can forgive more readily, like a tendency to play bagpipe music late at night, or a simple case of kleptomania.

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