When going into the “edit cycle” of your novel, it may be easier to view the story not as a single entity but rather a series of moving parts. A house is not just a house: it’s hinges and pipes and floorboards and water heaters and restless ghosts and sex swings and fiberglass insulation and hungry mice. You don’t edit a giant hunk of word-meat called a novel: you butcher it in pieces and parts.
(Total tangent to my thoughts – Have I mentioned I love the irreverent, bluntness of Chuck Wendig. He is full of practical views on the writing and publication process. No limits or boundaries to his thoughts. If you have tender ears, or are sensitive to strong language, this is not the site for you. )
As I’m going through my project for the billioneth and first time, I’m blinded by the trees of the forest. I have a complicated tale, with a lot (I do mean A LOT) of moving parts. Parts for the current situation, set up for the next installment, etc. Looking at things from a mechanical viewpoint (i.e. how did Ella get from the desk to the stairs without moving? etc.), makes working through the whole of the project easier.
There are days when I look at the pages of words I have created and want to scream in frustration. Other days, I have the mojo and can become an editing queen.
Writing a book is a war. What you just did was experience only one of the many battles in fighting that war: muddy in the trenches, crawling through the ejected blood of your cohorts, the stink of burning ink slithering up your nose like so many grave-worms. Maybe you won this battle. Maybe you lost. But the war goes on, friend-o. The typewriter keeps chattering. The story keeps struggling to be born. The screams of forgotten characters echo (echo echo) across the battlefield.
– Chuck Wendig, Terribleminds.com
That about sums up my opinion on writing and editing.