Introducing: Johnny’s Girls Editing Diary (Post Series)

It should be noted that two things happened in the past few days, which made me want to finally take this editing thing on. (Some people call it revision, or self-editing. I’m kinda stuck with editing since it’s the closest to my favourite, distorted semi-Croatian editiranje which I have been using for the past few years.)

Firstly, there was a tweet by Gareth L. Powell. Which, you know, ouch. Also, absolutely right. I’ve focused so much on keeping both this blog and my sanity alive during the last two months or so, and my actual fiction was the furthest thing from my mind. (Except when I’ve accidentally plotted the Fourth Werewolf Novel while taking my daily 40 minute walk back from work the other day.)

Secondly, my awesome partner (in crime and life, and you choose which takes precedence) said she wanted us to finally start publishing our shit in English, this year. And I guess I agreed? And then, you know, it’s already mid-May. The year is not that long, after all…

What you can expect from this post series

Since it’s my first one of 2020 (see the previous one here), I’m not making any promises.

Still, knowing me, this series is going to be a welcome challenge, making me restart both my fiction writing (and, err, editing) and the blog. The weekly wednesday posts which I’ve been publishing since December 2019 are still going to go up, although they could get cut with the editing diary on occasion. It will depend both on my regular work and the inspiration I manage to develop along the way.

I’ll share the ‘process’ of editing I’m undertaking, and the results. Hopefully, I’ll learn a thing or two along the way.

I won’t be sharing any actual content from the novel, both because it’s probably going to be published by autumn, and because it doesn’t actually matter in this context.

On an unrelated note, there will probably be a lot of whining, though.

What not to expect from this post series

Don’t, by all means, don’t think of it as gospel truth. Not because it’s only my second novel to be published, or because my editing process changes year in, year out (which it does), but because no two writers are the same. I’m honestly writing this to motivate myself, and to offer an example of what a revision process looks like for a writer. Use it to your discretion. Laugh at my incompetence, if you must. Nod along in agreement if you wish. And do try to take into consideration that I’m a notorious procrastinator with a full-time day job and a cat and a dog and a recently discovered, already serious addiction to jigsaw puzzles.

Which is to say, I’m hoping to wrap this up before summer, but… y’know.

What I’m starting with

A full novel (I write short first drafts which don’t really get all that longer in their finished form, sadly) of 70,349 words or so separated in 24 chapters of varying length. It was written during NaNoWriMo 2019, with the final sentence getting typed out on Dec 3rd, 2019. (Yes, I know which sentence was the last one because I’ve shared it in an Instagram story—and no, it wasn’t the final one in the novel. But thereabouts.)

I have a feeling the plot is alright, albeit a bit on the skinny side, and I love the characters. The setting’s going to have to be developed a bit further, mostly because I have issues with researching before writing (it is a problem and it is real). All in all… I truly believe it’ll need less work than my first novel (that one was a pain), and, hopefully, even less than the second one, currently with my betas and editor… and there she goes, jinxing it even before the start!

Oh, and the novel is a low-key dieselpunk murder mystery with queer MCs set in an alternate 1945 in Croatia.

Day one, May 12th, 2020

Opened a gdoc spreadsheet and listed all the chapters’ original lengths to be compared with their final form (I just love tracking).

Decided I’ll share the editing process here because 2020 has already been weird enough, why not make it weirder?

Wrote the better part of this post (yay!).

Realized I had almost 3k plus of what I previously thought I had (and I’m still not completely sure how that happened).

Found out that the average chapter length for Johnny’s Girls is 2931 words.

Shortest chapters are #23 at 1025 words, #24 at 1322 words and #4 at 1422 words. The first two are the final chapters, and I’m okay with keeping them that way, but chapter four is going to have to get expanded or merged with one of the surrounding ones. I have no idea what happened there. Still, if it’s the one with the drama which I kinda sorta remember… we’ll see!

Longest chapters are #19 at 4485, #11 at 4523 and #5 at 4570 words. (Hmmm, could it be the chapter that accidentally ate part of chapter four?)

Started editing today, tried not to curse the unnecessary and innumerable infodumps in the very first chapter (no worries, it’ll undergo the heaviest editing anyway, and probably more than once), asked the internet whether ‘briny wind’ is an acceptable use for ‘briny’, and decided there are still uses for modern folk songs and Aquaman.

Day 2, May 13th 2020

I’ve made a pact with myself that I’ll (try to) edit every day, no matter how small an amount of copy I actually manage to get to.

So, here’s day two.

Trying to determine the difference between a gulf and a bay. The first source I opened: ‘it is very difficult to differentiate between a gulf and a bay.’

Thank you.

Day 3, May 14th 2020

Didn’t really feel like opening the copy today. Did a couple of paragraphs. I really feel this novel deserves my higher brain functions, which I’m not currently able to give it. I’m mostly trying to separate the awfully overlong sentences into two or three shorter ones, and trying to decipher how much info the reader needs about the sci-fi elements early on in the story. In the first draft, there was barely any.

Really looking forward to the first beta reading from my partner!

Day 4, May 15th 2020

Definitely decided on using ‘bay’ over ‘gulf’ just because I… can’t.

FINISHED EDITING CHAPTER OOOONEEEEEEEE WOHOOO! *cacklingly goes to copy the chapter into the partner-turned-beta reader’s folder to share immediately bwahahahahaha*

I don’t usually send out chapters to my betas as I’m finishing them, but since I only have the one reader right now (usually there are at least three), and I can talk to her any time I wish, in person—which is no small feat this year—I’m taking the plunge.

We’re past the point of no return now, baby!

Day 5, May 16th 2020

Almost forgot the novel even existed because of 9+ hours of puzzle therapy. Thought for a second about ditching today, even though I’d have to admit it here—yeah, I’m only human, I can live with it.

Managed to get a few pages in anyway. Spent most of the time, before I ran out of concentration, on finding a period-appropriate slang for a badly chosen word in the initial draft. Decided on an idiom still in use today, just in case, because I need a whole lotta more confidence in writing both in English and in a historical setting before I manage to seamlessly integrate weird old words into my copy.

The beta partner’s first impressions came today or yesterday evening—of course she likes the chapter. She still managed to catch a single surviving mile-long sentece! Damn my November brain. I was given green light on both the worldbuilding and the pacing, and we’ll see what the rest of it goes like. Sadly, my partner strongly dislikes historical fiction, both the written and the motion-pictured one—so let’s hope we both survive this!

A weird thing to note, too—reading this novel, I’m slowly remembering how excited I was about the worldbuilding and the premise in the first place. I just love playing around with sci-fi and/or fantasy in my local setting!

Ps. And then I went and opened the sequel sketch (of course there’s a sequel) and fell in love with it all over again and actually wrote 50 new words there. Fun times.

Day 6, May 17th 2020

Edited a few paragraphs. Love the setting so much.

Day 7, May 18th 2020

Haven’t edited yet today, but I managed to wrap this post up before breakfast—take your victories as you can, yeah?

Photo by Isis França on Unsplash.

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