Edits—they can be a drag. Sometimes, you work for hours only to improve a few pages. Other times, you do line-edits until you’re blue in the face—and you’re not even sure if they made the story better or not.
So, what do you do if you end up in what I like to call the “Never-ending Editing Vortex”? Here are some solutions that have worked for me:
· Develop your own process
One of the biggest mistakes I made as a beginning writer was concentrating too hard on line edits instead of the overall story. Story fixes need to happen first—and line edits can wait until the final pass-through. But everyone’s process is different—make sure you choose what works best for you. For example, I need to put a time limit on my edits—otherwise I’ll edit myself into terrible places, and, six hours later (no exaggeration), I’ll be clawing my eyes out.
· Let your characters and story drive your edits
On the most recent pass through one of my novels, I realized I had a secondary character who disappeared after a few scenes. Solution? I ended up killing him off—and it made the story inter-connect a lot more effectively. If your edits are dragging you down, look at your characters and story—and get inspiration from them.
· Figure out which feedback to take, and which to leave
There are two breeds of writers: the ones who can’t take criticism (don’t edit enough), and the ones that take it too far (edit way too much). And then there’s a third breed—the ones who know which criticism to take, and which to leave. Be that third breed—your edits will be much more likely to make a positive difference.
· Don’t be afraid to trunk your novel for a little while
Sometimes, no matter what you do, no matter how hard you try, the novel still might not work the way you want. So, trunk it for a bit and work on something else. Just because it’s in the trunk now, doesn’t mean it always will be. Revisit it later, with some time and distance.