Editing: Separating the Me from Ryan (Or, editing multiple voices)

If the title baffles you, it’s totally fine.

Let me introduce you to Ryan.

Ryan is a narcissist, but he’s classy with it. Tactless, but funny. The traditional charming rogue, except with casual murder. He’s probably one of the first characters I ever admitted kind of lived in my head. I don’t mean that in the same way I do with other characters. Of course they all live in my head. But Ryan is… there.

Which is fine. I mean, writers create characters. And in order to create characters, they have to feel real, not only to the reader but to yourself as well. The more real that character feels, the better you’ll write them (I’m sure I blogged about this before).

But Ryan is Ryan. And he’s rather persistent.

So when I wrote the second novel in the Time and Space series, I decided to let him vent off some steam and give him his own first person narration.

I want to make a point here that it was the very first time I ever attempted first person. I didn’t find it comfortable all the rest of the time I’d tried it, and I didn’t want to wreck it up. But Ryan’s voice was so strong, I knew I could at least give it a decent stab.

I also want to point out that the whole novel is NOT in Ryan’s pov.

That seemed like an excellent idea at the time. I wanted to keep some continuity in style with the first novel, which includes all of the same characters, and honestly, I wasn’t sure I could keep the first person up. So it mixes between third person and Ryan. Me sometimes, Ryan others. No issue. It reads well, and it makes sense, and Ryan’s narration occurs at key moments rather than just because I feel like writing like Ryan.

(Side note: if attempting this, you MUST make sure it isn’t a gimmick, or something just to appease the fangirl in you. The first person has to work on its own, not as a scaffold for the third, and vice versa. If you want a great example, try the Bartimaeus trilogy by Johnathon Stroud, which does this beautifully.)

The issue comes when trying to edit.

I flew through the first novel, due to previous edits and a clear sense of what I wanted out of it, and powered through to the second, thinking it would be done in the same amount of time.

Nope.

The problem is what made it work so well the first time: Ryan. The strength of his narration and his particular style of speaking is so jarring against my third person narration that trying to edit in strict chapter continuity is nigh on impossible, because as I exit a third person chapter, I am suddenly thrust into a different voice and style that I immediately have to adapt to in order to be subjective.

And it isn’t my voice. It’s Ryan’s. And I know that sounds weird. I have to inhabit his head, which makes the edit really, really hard.

Right now, I’m thinking this is what I’ll do:

a) Power through. I’m nearly at the end of the initial edit, so I may as well push through these last eight chapters. Slowly.

b) Print out. This, of course, is one of my previous edit tips. But there’s a reason for this.

c) Separate out Ryan from me. In this case, take all of the third person chapters and put them in one pile, and all of the Ryan chapters and place them in another.

d) Paper edit each voice separately. So, all the third, all together. Then, all of Ryan’s.

e) Take it back to the computer edit. Add all changes.

f) Final read.

It’s going to take way more time than I imagined, but I want to do this thing properly. I’ll update you on the process – maybe with pictures!!

 

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