Back in the editing cave once again! I’m making a lot of structural changes to this novel, which I previously referred to as USLS. (That is no longer the title. More on that soon.)
The last week and a half was spent cutting a bunch of stuff, and then going back to the beginning to do my re-outlining exercise. This process is always the most tedious — reading through chapter by chapter and logging all the important points. But it’s absolutely crucial because when I’ve finished these bulleted summaries, I can easily get a bird’s-eye view of the entire novel. And I never let myself cheat by updating old outlines from the same exercise — part of the point is that I’m reviewing the whole book. I need a fresh look at it.
Now comes the hard part: figuring out how I want to separate out the pieces, and how I’d like to weave them back together again.
I’m altering quite a lot of things, but at least I have a clear vision of where I want to end up. Really, I think I’ve had a pretty good idea since the third draft, but back then I was way too close to the material to figure out how to move it toward that vision. Now I’ve gotten a good bit of distance — I’ve spent nearly half a year away from this project! Going through it this time so many things have leapt out at me. There’s even more that I want to rewrite than I’d originally planned for.
The setting is changing as well, for certain parts of the book. What was originally in Shanghai will now be in Taipei, for some very good and important reasons. The location was actually something I’d questioned all these years, across the various iterations of this story. There were some personal and logistical factors that made me put my characters in Shanghai, but as soon as I decided to change it I knew it was the right decision.
So, I’ve booked a trip to Taiwan for research! It’s absolutely necessary — I haven’t visited since I was fifteen years old. It’s a very different place now, or so I’ve been told. I’m excited to roam the streets, push my way through the famous night markets, listen to the wide, bright sounds of Taiwanese and Taiwanese-style Mandarin. I’m going to do some hiking, some wandering. My uncle is going to take me up this old mountain where my grandmother lived as a child, and which inspired some of the story. The trip will be part research, part writing residency. I’ve found the perfect Airbnb — a little place in a neighborhood just like where my main character would stay.
Time to set some goals. I hope that in the next two or three weeks I’ll finish a new outline/plan for how I’m going to braid everything together. The earlier the better, really. Because after that comes the actual rewriting.