Ah, the joy of editing. Today I have been working on my 12+ novel. It’s a complex beast and keeping an eye on all the various threads in it is always rather a challenge, but this morning I spotted one of those unwanted beasts – the plot hole. Missed by me over all five drafts (or maybe it crept in round about draft three), there it was. I set about fixing it and every change I made seemed to necessitate going backwards or forwards to re-edit more.
If you have ever started rearranging a room to make it tidier, or just tidying it up when it gets into a state, there is always a point where it gets worse before it gets better. Writing is the same. Editing, re-editing, there often comes a point when you start to fear you have meddled too much and you are never going to be able to put all the pieces back together again. If you hit that point, don’t worry. As long as you keep an eye on what you are doing and why, just push on through and it should all fall into place eventually. My tips for re-writing are :
a) keep versions – so you can go back if you decide that something isn’t working and you want to re-think
b) keep notes – draw a thread of what impact the change you are making will have. If a character now knows something in chapter 2 that you originally had them discover in chapter 5, how will that knowledge now affect the decisions they make from chapter 3 onwards?
c) don’t worry about ‘breaking it’. You are working on it for a reason and so long as you keep (a) in mind, the work you are doing on it now should only improve it in the long run. Just remember, it will often look worse before it looks better.