Wednesday, July 3, 2013

When Edits Collide...

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.

            Granted—these strategies won’t work all the time, and you’ll sometimes have to adjust your editing process based on the book you’re working on. But hopefully, they will make things less daunting, and the writing more fun. Because having fun is what writing is all about.

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