From the Writing Desk: editing “Small Steps”

By August 1st, I need excerpts of both “Small Steps” and “Campus” ready to be sent off, so at the moment, I’m busy editing “Small Steps”. And a busy week it has been already!

I still don’t know how to cut the 477 pages of the A Draft down to 300 (for now, I won’t), but in moving from a posted-in-chapters format to an all-in-one arch, there are are some things that can be sped up a little and some detail that may look repetitive when read in a row. In turn, some twists in the shorter second part (taking up only 30 of the 200 chapters), do need a little more space to flow naturally.

On a side note, I’m chagrined at the amount of typos that have made their way into the more late-at-night written chapters, showing my unfortunate and non-native speaker habit of mixing up similarly sounding words with different spellings when I’m tired (like “your” and “yore”). And many chapters, I wrote at hours where I was apparently very tired.

At the moment, I’m trying to decide what excerpts to file: I want the set-up at the beginning, at least one dance sequence (still undecided which one), and one conversation or scene where the things said are only a background for the things remaining unsaid (one of my favorite perspectives to write, and something that I had a lot of fun with in “Dare”, especially when it came to Teresa).

It took me two days alone to scroll through the entire story again and make a chapter board with content overview for each of the 200 parts:

Some things, I still prefer to write in longhand!

Another major issue was renaming the characters – apart from the leads and their first and last names, which have to reflect specific regional heritage (the South/Sevilla and Extremadura, respectively) and a certain feel, there were also a couple of “inside winks” that had to be adapted. Linked to this is the question of how to maintain a Spanish feel to a story set in Spain (it mainly takes place in Madrid and Barcelona) while making it accessible to native English speakers who may not know Spanish at all. What names can be easily read and pronounced, which ones would sound odd or lead to misunderstandings? (something I only learned to consider after receiving many confused emails over the pronunciation of “Agniesza” in “Campus”)

I hope to be done with the scene selection until tomorrow, so that I can focus on the wording and pacing of the excerpts, and then I’m seeing myself trying to draw up a “Campus” overview and select scenes from it, which will take even longer, simply due to its sheer length. The writing also needs a lot more adjusting and sometimes flat-out rewriting in that one, since it was written over such a long period of time and since my English was not very differentiated in the beginning (especially regarding style levels and colloquialisms). Mind you, I still make enough mistakes now – the curse of not being a native speaker.

Actually, at the beginning of “Campus”, I just went by sheer gut, heavily influenced by reading lots and lots of Über fiction online. I just wanted to write a story, too. I had no idea it would turn into a seven-year adventure with that many pages!

2 thoughts on “From the Writing Desk: editing “Small Steps””

  1. August 1st. is round the corner! And what a task you’ve got!

    One of the most “perfect” parts I remember from Small Steps is the one you tell 5 years life data on Esther, that was incredible! As a “hobby” writer myself, I found it a masterpiece to look on, for its shortness, preciseness and excitement at the same time.

    I hope you just find the exact names you are looking for. How to name the “tanguera” Maca? That will be hard indeed. 🙂

    And I wish I can see your book published soon. I’ll ask you to please sign one copy for me, it was an amazing story I’d like to read again as a novel itself.

    Good luck!!!!


  2. I know it is far too late now but I was listening to Colm Toibin on the BBC’s World Book Club and he kept Irish names in his ‘Brooklyn’ novel – he wanted to keep it true to his original idea and did not want to ‘internationalise’ the names. So if possible just use names that would be authentic and the reader can form their own pronounciation…. There must be thousands of international readers who wonder how to pronounce such names as Soibhan or Eilis…..

    Looking forward to seeing your work in print… loved Campus.

    Anyway keep the posts coming re the writing… we all love it even though we might not comment sometimes.


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