Friday, September 17, 2010

Beginning the Editing Process (Part 1)

As some of you know, I took a two and a half week break from the first draft of my current work in progress (WIP) and have at last begun editing. This is a scary time for any writer. It’s when we read through our manuscript (ms) and begin to make the difficult decisions of what stays and what goes. This is when we must question everything. This is when we realise how much work is yet to come.

It’s easy to get discouraged at this stage. I opened up my ms and shuddered. The first two chapters have to go. That’s 5000 words blown up in smoke and the little black cloud from the explosion threatens to hover over my head. I have to remind myself that this is all part of the process. I have to throw out the bad bits to make room for great bits.

Greatness. That’s what we want to aim for when we edit. We can only achieve greatness through the hard slog, through the tossing out of sections that don’t work, through the careful attention to detail, through the ability to see the big picture. It takes practice, patience and a kind of bulldog determination to keep going.

Next Wednesday I will post a more detailed piece on how to begin editing. (Monday I will be taking part in Alex J Cavanaugh’s Top Ten TV Shows Blogfest which should be a lot of fun – and you’ll see my true geeky self).

Do you enjoy editing? Do you find it a daunting process? What keeps you going?

Special Note: Jen over at Unedited is having a giveaway. Pop on over to check it out.

Pic: I took this photo of the sun at midday during a time of bad bushfires in Australia

36 comments:

  1. Extra note I forgot to add: It's talk like a pirate day today... YAARGH!

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  2. I really do enjoy editing and critiquing others works. Though time management is aproblem for me. but I can see that sometimes revising is daunting. thanks for posting and I hope you have a great day.

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  3. Yar, I hates editing! Gar.

    I'd give up all my booty if I could write a perfect first draft. ;)

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  4. Summer, editing and critiquing someone else's work is a different story entirely! I love doing that also. It's when it's my own work that I groan inside ;)

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  5. Tere, Yar! We should make edits walk the plank! Gar!

    And oh! what a dream that would be! To have a perfect first draft! *wistful sigh*

    awesome prirate speak you have there btw :)

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  6. For me, it's daunting. I love to reach the end and feel good about the work though.

    CD

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  7. Can't wait to see your list in Alex's blogfest. Since you live in Australia I guess you are open to British programmes so I think we might have some similar shows in our top tens :)

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  8. Even though it can be discouraging, I love editing. I love taking the mess of my first draft and making it into something actually worth reading! Good luck with yours. :)

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  9. I'm a better editor than I will ever be a writer. I rarely if ever get something "right" right away. I usually have to get it wrong and fix it many times over before I get it down. Doesn't make it any less daunting of a task, though.

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  10. Clarissa, reaching the end is the best feeling. Being satisfied with the work of art we've created...yes indeedy!

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  11. Dez, I have only two British shows in my list so I might disappoint you. I am super curious about your list though ;)

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  12. Shallee, the end result of editing is the best. Thanks, I need all the luck I can get ;)

    Elizabeth, I think 70% of our time as writers is dedicated to editing and getting it right :)

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  13. For the most part I enjoy editing mainly because I'm so eager to see the finished product! But I edit as I go along, not just at the end, so really all I have left to do once I've written that last chapter is the removal of adverbs and things like that, maybe some exposition and dialogue that needs tightening up.

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  14. I love editing. My first drafts are ugly, so editing is where the work really starts to evolve into something not so embarrassing. I usually give myself 6 weeks in between the first and second drafts so that are my eyes are as fresh as possible, and I'm always amazed by how much of the story I forget in that period of time! Which is a good thing for editing... but also scary, too.

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  15. Glad you're taking a break for the blogfest!
    And I like to edit. Writing out the first draft is the toughest part for me.

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  16. I've actually really come to enjoy the editing process. If I can only get something down on paper that's worth editing, I'll be golden

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  17. I must not have enjoyed it as I don't recall how I did it during college years, buried in those essays or other paper works that needed to be done in a short period of time. Getting "A's" on some must be the result of proper editing though. Hard work but it's all worth it. God bless.

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  18. Amanda, editing as you go makes for a slower first draft but it also means you have less work to do at the end :)

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  19. Jennifer, I would normally give myself a longer break, but I'm over eager this time around.

    Alex, querying is the toughest part for me ;)

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  20. Melissa, I wish I enjoyed it more. I don't mind line editing, it's the big stuff I find difficult..the throwing out of sections because they don't work... things like that.

    Rcubes, I never edited in university (college). I'd begin an essay two hours before it was due and hand it in with five minutes to spare. I used to drive the teachers crazy. My goal back then was not to fail and woo! I achieved my goal ;)

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  21. Editing for me starts off slow, but steady. I snip a bit here, move this around to there, always being cautious with the first read-through. Once I hit the 5th or so read through (don't laugh) I'm hacking away, trying to massacre anything that slows the pace. It can be daunting and tiring with little end in sight, but a necessary evil for sure!

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  22. there's nothing quite like the joy of the first draft for me, but I do like slashing and tightening too. Fixing plot holes however, not so much fun :)

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  23. !ow, well yay that you're at least in the editing stages! Hang in there, and stay positive, although I'm sure you don't need me to tell you that :) Perseverance indeed! Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier this week, ya know, I'm going to be more picky with my books from now on too!

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  24. So daunting...I have a love/hate relationship with editing. I love the fact that I'm pushing out the bad and bringing in the new, but it takes so long! Good luck with your edits!

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  25. Nathalie, your method sounds quite reasonable. The more times you read through your ms the better :)

    Jemi, yep, first draft is best in my opinion because it's so freeing, but fixing plot holes is... urgh

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  26. Ant, thanks for the encouragement :)

    Natascha (Las Vegas Writer), yeah, editing is a slow process, but a process we can't ignore. Thanks for the luck :)

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  27. Lynda..nowadays I love to edit. This has happened after I started teaching Creative Writing and critiquing other writer's stories. I have a better sense of what should stay in my MS and what should be deleted

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  28. I just started editing a novel, and it's great fun. Part of this, though, attribute to the fact that the first draft was entirely discovery written, and quite hollow: only 45,000 words. Thus, re-engaging with the draft is just as much fun as it was the first time, because there is so much untouched material.

    -bn

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  29. Hope you took a long enough break, so you are seeing the story through fresher eyes.

    The editing process is ... something. I sure learned a lot with my first novel last spring. It, like everything else, has a learning curve.

    I started with colored hilighters, etc ... in hand. Now I know pretty well what I need to look for with me.

    Have you a critique group? I found that invaluable when reshaping the piece.

    You'll do great. Next one will go faster. So, I hope. I'm procrastinating on starting #2. Next week. Next week. So, I keep saying. LOL

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  30. Wench, edits are challenging! But arrr, you can do it or I'll make ya walk the plank.

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  31. That's all I've been doing lately--revising and editing. I don't hate it as much as I once did--but I enjoy writing the book more for sure:)

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  32. Revision and editing are monsters but don't give up. You're WIP will be polished and slick and beautiful at the end of it.

    Jai

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  33. Rachna, I've found that as well...helping others has a way of giving me a better idea of what is needed.

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  34. Ben, it's great when we get to write fresh new words during an edit -- especially when we know it's making the novel better :)

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  35. M Pax, I don't currently have a critique group. Nothing is ready enough for critiquing yet but I'll need to find one soon.

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  36. Samantha, argh! not the plank me matey!!

    Terri, hehe I can relate to that :)

    Jai, thanks for the encouragement :)

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I'd love to hear your opinion. Thanks for leaving a comment.