We’re not writers, we’re re-writers.
Editing is a necessary part of writing. As hard as it is, our manuscripts are always the better for it. Because we want the best manuscripts possible, we edit, even though root canals are often a more-preferred activity.
Where it only takes me a month or two to draft a manuscript it may take me months and months to edit (Especially if I need to have it vetted by very specific betas in addition to the usual suspects. I might do this when, like in my MG, the story takes place in a city I’m not familiar with. )
I’m a pantser, so when I start editing, I may have to go back and change things at the beginning to make the end work. I sometimes go back and add in details, facts, and what I call color and flavor. I fact check, spell check, futz with names and places. I keep a running list of things to change/add as I’m writing so I’m continually moving forward and not going back and changing things. For me this keeps up the momentum
Most of all, I cut words.
My name is Suzanne Lazear and I’m a chronic overwriter.
I consistently write about 10-20k long.
When your goal is 100k, cutting 10-20k isn’t that hard.
When your goal is 55k, cutting nearly 20k is really hard.
My Elfpunk MG ended at upwards of 72k. I wanted to get it somewhere between 55-60k.
I hit a major road block at 68k. Like the kind that makes you cry and want to abandon the project even though it’s written.
Finally, I let the ms sit for awhile (while it was being vetted and I worked on something different, I like to have multiple projects in different stages going at the same time, it makes me feel more productive.)
When I returned to it I had an ah ha moment and suddenly saw all sorts of things I could cut, mostly narrative and other things that were nice but ultimately weren’t necessary (yes a few darlings died in the making of this story.)
No plot lines were cut. No characters were axed. I’m 2/3 of the way through and I’ve shaved 4k down.
I may not hit 60k, but I’m feeling much, much better about this project.
Sometimes it’s taking that step back that helps us edit – not just our books but in our lives. Though editing is never easy.
Recently I’ve taken a step back and realized I may need to do some life editing as well.
It will be a hard thing for me to “edit out” that activity, because it’s been part of my life for so long. But if something that’s supposed to be fun isn’t anymore, then it’s time to let it go – which isn’t unlike killing those darlings that are cute and loveable but don’t move your story forward.
So, I will push though and edit this story and edit my life and everything will be all the better for it.
How do you deal with editing?