Editing is a bit of a nightmare, isn’t it? I’ve gone over the electronic manuscript again and again, and it’s driving me crazy. It’s not just the formatting, or the minor typos, or even the issues with remembering who’s who and what’s what. It’s the skipping from page to page, and finding myself going over the same chapters at the beginning, and not really getting to the end.
Well, an epiphany arrived today, not a big one, probably relatively small, but still, an epiphany, in the form of chapter headings. Or rather, what to do with the chapters. So in this novel, the beginning is a bit slow, and the reader gets to hover over the details. It’s very subjective. As the pace picks up, the chapters tend to get it a bit faster, there’s more speech, less speech tags, and more rapid change. And I was reading another book about writing and thought, why have I got ‘Chapter One, Chapter Two, Chapter Three, etc?’ What’s the point of that? So I’ve taken out those labels, and just left the Arabic words I am using as chapter headings.
Arabic words, yes, that’s what I said. No, I don’t speak Arabic. I got around this particular issue with a good degree of luck as well as research. The copy of the Qu’ran I borrowed from the library has an English commentary on every page, and in many of these sections there is reference to a word or phrase, with a discussion of translation. Ideal, really. These words have meaning, some kind of symbolic linkage to the content and themes of the chapter. But they also symbolise something else. They act as a reminder for the reader of the nature of the work, and of the context in which my character is living. And, of course, they are derived from the Holy Qu’ran, reminding the reader as well of the spiritual dimension to the novel. I’ll have to get them checked out by somebody who understands them though, because I could be using the words in entirely the wrong context. And I’m dedicated to what I’m doing, but so far haven’t been able to find someone to tutor me in Arabic so that I can get my head around these particular words.
Ah, the complexities of it all. I love it.