I’m in the process of editing my novel “Turning Left at Albuquerque” at the moment, which is a job I have long put off. I did some initial editing last year and pared it down from over 142,000 to just about 110, 000 (I know!). I then started to podcast it on turningleft.podbean.com with some very positive feedback.
As I learned more about publishing, though, it became apparent I needed to edit more and focus on the main conflict (Jason and Trixie) to get the word count down. The Masterclass by Donald Maas I attended at the Surrey International Writer’s Conference gave me the impetus to actually sit down and edit.
I’m a winner!
Then, last month, I took part on one of the great competitions that Seth Harwood (author of “Jack Wakes Up” and “A Long Way from Disney“) runs on his website and twitter. Seth is passionate about writing and podcasting, and is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. The prize I won was critique of a chapter by Seth himself – what an opportunity! I’ve reworked Chapter 1 and sent it to him this week and I’m really looking forward to hearing his feedback.
I had put off the editing for so long, but why? Do you find editing easy?
Writing is so easy
Truly it is. The words flow, the ideas pour onto the page and before you know it you’ve written a masterly-crafted tome. Easy. The moment you finish your book you know – just know – that it is single-handedly the most brilliant piece of fiction ever created. EVA! Just wait until the public get a load of your prose.
Taking the time
And then the rush to submit to agents, publishers, friends, your friend’s dog on Facebook is heady. Everyone needs to read this story. And fast. Okay, so it might be a little on the long side, but more words are better, right?
After the initial thrill has worn off (and possibly after the first few rejection letters have been received), your mind might (be) turn(ed) towards the idea that perhaps you could afford to trim your story a little. Not much, of course! But a little snippage here and there. Eventually it dawns on you that, in fact, you need to go into major editing mode. Fear not! This is not as bad as it seems to be.
I put off the inevitable. Guess what? Because it was inevitable, I had to do it anyway.
Editing can be a horrible, endless, grinding task. All those precious words! How can you simply delete them? After snipping at the edges, coming to terms with the fact that you actually need to take whole chunks of text out of your work can be a traumatic idea. But take heart. Your manuscript with actually be SO MUCH BETTER when you’ve finished. The simplest way to approach editing is to keep asking yourself: “Does this passage/scene/chapter/ progress the story or heighten or resolve a conflict? If the answer is “No.” then it’s gone. Suddenly all those wonderfully descriptive passages drop away leaving a lean story behind.
Is it that simple?
Yes. And no. Of course there is more to it than that. There are whole books devoted to helping you edit – and professional editors make their living because it is very hard to do. A good editor is worth their weight in gold because they know how to balance structure, form and pace of a book. Querytracker.net has a great post about editing which really helps to break down the process into doable parts.
Your favourite editing tricks
Do you have a method for editing that works for you, or links to other good articles that helped you set about editing? If so please share them here. It’s always good to hear how other people go about their work.