Quite a random post, mostly to allow me to avoid editing, have a good moan – which I can’t put on fb as everyone will tell me to go work 😦
Still there may well be other procrastinating writers out there, desperate for some distraction. It makes me feel like I am still being productive to believe that I am helping them.. so
First – reason editing sucks is because it sucks. Tautological? Apparently but that’s just a big word for people who like showing off. It may be like saying a chore is hard work, but that doesn’t make it less true.
Numero 2 – It requires you admit you suck. The entire enterprise is built around finding everything that doesn’t work, reads like crap and makes no sense. All three in one sentence, and you can treat yourself to some extra sleepless hours tonight contemplating your award speech for Most Delusional Crap.. Ever.. (the ever will hit you just as you think you are about to drift off…)
Sailing in at 3 – there is no good advice for editing out there. There really isn’t. There are useless and oft repeated pieces such as ‘cut unnecessary words’.
Necessary words in the above – no good advice for editing.
Necessary in a novel is not an easy thing to determine, you have necessary for voice, for time and place, for character, for tone, for plot…
And no, just getting rid of all the adverbs will not work, because in actual fact the very first, and most important, edit has very little to do with the mechanics of grammar and everything to do with story and character.
4 for those keeping score – no one else can do it but you. This one might be a little controversial. Its certainly not that I don’t believe in beta readers and the importance of an independent proof read, but editing is fundamentally a writers job, to such an extent I would say those writers who work very closely with their editors might actually consider they are working with a co-writer.
Ultimately, it is not only my voice, it is my story, my intent that guides each scene. In my book Bella would not be fainting from shock at his touch, but rather from the overwhelming aroma of the onion garden strung round her neck.
If you can find someone who understands what you are trying to do, can help you home in on the less effective spots then you’ve struck gold, but you’re still the one who has to fix them.
Five and still rising – you must be decisive. I am the least decisive person ever – except under extreme pressure, yet another weird personal contradiction – but to the point, when I write, by and large, I go by the mantra, better in than out – easier to cut than add – even though the things I end up returning to are always the things I questioned as I was writing them. And yet, stilllll, I can’t make up my mind – as though that one line, one word, one little comma might make or break the entire book. Once deleted and added the same word over a hundred times.. if I saw it again today I’d probably delete it, then add it back, then delete it…
Six has to be the last (as I really need to pee) – it never ends. Once you’ve dragged yourself through and emerged clutching the tattered remnants of your once thick story, there is no rest, only the certain knowledge that you must go back in again. And this time you must examine every sentence still standing, every last word that is still propping up your poor wee ego, shrivelled though it may be, and address it from every conceivable angle with the question, Am I sure it isn’t really shit?
So.. I’m off to edit.. 😦
ETA – or maybe I will just go find a nice picture to illustrate this post? Pictures are essential really, its definitely not procrastination…How would anyone understand what I was saying without pictures?