By Sarah K. Marr
Spanning Victorian Oxford to the London of the 1980s, “All the Perverse Angels” is a novel about the nature of loss and the confusion of love, about the stories we are told and the stories we tell ourselves
Thursday, 17 November 2016
The Joy of Hex: on Editing.
All my edits are in blue, written with the marvellous Hex-O-Matic™ Retro 1951 propelling pencil.
I thought I’d share a quick glimpse into the dark heart of my editing process. You may ask, “What have I done to deserve this?” but, alas, your question falls on deaf ears.
I find that I can’t edit on a computer screen, certainly not when I’m dealing with more than a few pages of text. I need the sense of place and progress which comes with a sheaf of papers, and the ease of to-ing and fro-ing amongst scenes. What’s more, I can take any changes through multiple iterations before committing them to the digital draft: first with edits on a note-by-note basis; then with edits across multiple scenes; and finally when revisiting each edit as I update the digital manuscript.
The picture you see here is of pages 91 and 92 of “All the Perverse Angels” (with the text Greeked, because I don’t want to spoil the surprise for you), printed after their return from my wonderful editor, Liz. The black bits are the printed text, with Liz’s notes in the grey boxes to the right of the page. All my responses to those notes—and any problems I find during my own re-read—are in blue, written with the marvellous Hex-O-Matic™ Retro 1951 propelling pencil, shown on the right-hand page. I swap to red pen once I’m updating the digital document: mostly the red is just ticks to show I’ve made the required updates, but occasionally I’ll revise the text as I’m typing, too.
The good news is that the development edit has been relatively minor. These two pages are some of the ‘busiest’ in the whole novel and even this is, mostly, just a rewrite of the first paragraph, to correct the sense of time having passed between the end of chapter six and this chapter. The first round of the edit has been completed and the updated draft is back with Liz. We think that we should be bringing this stage of editing to an end by late December, or early in the new year.
In summary: paper and a Hex-O-Matic™ pencil with blue leads make your author happy and productive. Don’t tell me that’s not important to you. (No, really: even if it isn’t, don’t tell me.)