Last week you listened to me rant about the downsides of editing, but the conclusion was: every book needs it. Today we’ll talk about some of the positive things, and what I like about editing.
Editing is a lot of work, and although some of it’s frustrating, there’s a few things I’m starting to enjoy about it.
I focus on different things in each edit I do. The first round edits, I just clean up the story. I try to smooth out what I have to make it more readable. After that, I do a read through, and make a lot of notes.
The second edit is the one I really enjoy. This is where I add all the new stuff and my characters really come alive. My favorite part about this, is the story I’ve written has had time to marinate. I know what I have on paper, it’s not just an idea in my head anymore. Now I get to expand on that idea. Cut the fat and all the scenes that aren’t working, and add all the juicy meat to the story.
I do a huge amount of world building in this edit. For example, 80% of the scenes in EXILED that take place in the second dimension, came from this style of edit. I added in the trolls, the goblin, and a lot of other thing. The same sort of work will take place in SHIFT. I’m not to the really good stuff yet, but I’m on my way.
Editing gives you a chance to play with your original idea. Bring your characters to life so they jump off the page, cut the characters that aren’t adding to the story at all, and incorporate any new ideas that have developed along the way.
The first draft of a book is always really rough, but after you’re done with a few rounds of edits, it’s like a whole new book.
We all dislike some parts of editing, but just as I explained last week, its a necessary part of the process. Although I choose to use a professional editor, you don’t have to, maybe you just want to have a critique partner. That’s okay too. It’s your book, so you can choose how you handle things. If you do hire and editor, or use a critique partner though, take full advantage of that!
Editors/Critique partners are going to make your story better. No doubt about it. If you’re so set in your ways with a novel that you’re not willing to make changes, or be open to new ideas, you’re not ready to publish (in my opinion). These people are the first readers of your book, take their reactions for what they are – a trial run.
Use their skills as writers/readers/editors and let it help you. It’ll either improve your book in a basic way, smooth it out and help you understand the way others are percieving your work, or it can show you an entirely new route your story might want to go. One you haven’t thought of and your readers, so far, would like you to consider.
Sometimes as writers we get so caught up in the world we’ve created, we develop tunnel vision. This isn’t a bad thing per say, but it can hurt our story in the long run.
We love our stories and what we’ve created, but just like anything, it’s easier to be on the outside looking in. Find that community of people that you work well with, people you trust to look at your work and whose opinions you respect. If you’re handing your work over to someone you don’t get a good vibe from, you probably won’t like the results.
Whatever you decide to do, keep an open mind. Don’t just react to their criticisms, take a step back, let the thoughts marinate. When you’re ready and you’ve given it all some thoguht, then try to look at your book objectively (way easier said than done, I know). Maybe they have some really great points. Maybe they’re vision is different from yours and just won’t work. And maybe, their idea will get your creative juices flowing and you’ll expand on their thoughts, making it even better!
When push comes to shove, the final decision is yours, but for the sake of the awesome book your writing, take it into consideratin. You’re the one who put all the work in, and you’re the one that’ll be held accountable when it’s all said and done. You owe it to yourself, and your story, to make it the best it can be.