Editing on the Edge

This post gets to serve two purposes (porpoises?). It is day 5 of the A to Z blogging challenge (the letter E), and it is the first Wednesday of the month, which is the day the Insecure Writer’s Support Group gets together for our epic blog hop.

InsecureWritersSupportGroup2

http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html

Check us out. Play along. We get to talk about our writing struggles and successes. You also get to meet some really great people who always have your best writing interest at heart.

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I believe the most important part of the writing process is editing. Reading a badly edited piece (one that is presented as a finished work) is difficult for me. Nothing takes me out of a text quite as fast as typos and content errors. I do believe that no writing, especially a longer work, is ever perfect, but it is painfully obvious when someone has not taken the time or effort to even proofread. It is lazy, and shows a lack of respect for the reader.

There it is, my rant for the day, and my invaluable advice for any writer- Edit. Then when you are done, edit some more, then some more. Sleep a bit, then edit again. 

I just finished editing the second draft of my third novel. It finally feels ready for sharing (at least with some beta readers and family). It is miraculous that this story isn’t in the garbage bin. I struggled mightily with this one, always unsure of its quality, convinced I was writing the most un-suspenseful book of all time. Every twist and turn seemed utterly predictable. The only reason I finished was a commitment I made to myself to never throw a story away until the first draft was complete.

I usually wait one full week after finishing the draft before I begin to edit.

This time, I waited three.

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This photo has nothing to do with editing, but it is a lovely image of blossoms on the campus of the University of Washington. Let’s call it- an artistic pause. 

When I finally found the courage to start the edit, I was ready to rewrite complete sections, perhaps entire chapters. In my worst scenario, the entire book had to be redone. I was on edge with every page, my fingers ready to cut and slice at a moments notice.

It wasn’t all that bad. In fact, the more I read, the less I cut and the more I liked what I had created. I finished that first crucial edit, then sent it to my wife for reading. She loved the book. My next reader (my mother) finished in two days and declared it her favorite of my three. I was shocked.

I’m still not completely sure it is a winner, and as usual (does any writer NOT have this issue?), have no idea how to query it, but I am more confident that it has potential. I like writing with potential. I also like writing that is edited. So edit what you write, for me, please.

 

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About fenster

There are some who call me, Tim?

16 responses to “Editing on the Edge”

  1. amymorrisjones says :

    Congrats on the editing achievement! I know plenty of writers love revising–finding their story–but I hate it. I love writing, but as soon as I get to the revision phase, my mind veers off toward a million other things I’d rather be doing. I suppose that’s why I have three completed manuscripts hanging around without clear purpose or destination! I refuse to foist them onto anyone else until they’re more polished… and I just haven’t gotten to the point where I want to do that work thoroughly. Oh well… someday!

  2. Jessica Triana says :

    I agree, editing is very important and arguably the activity that takes the most time for writers.

    Congratulations on finishing and it’s success with the beta readers. 🙂 I’m still struggling to complete any of my projects let alone get to the editing stage, but my problem is that I don’t really have a plot when I start, just very clear characters and important scenes but how to get from one scene to the next is often a mystery! I’ll get there in the end though, I’m determined to keep on keeping on… 🙂

    • fenster says :

      Keep pushing yourself and your ideas. The plot will work itself out, and if it doesn’t, you’ll have all sorts of cool written pages to work with.

  3. Ula says :

    Editing isn’t as fun as the wild abandon of the first draft, but it is necessary.

    My current WIP only became decent in draft two, which was basically a rewrite. I’m on draft three now, which feels like it may at least be the final structure of the story.

    Believing a story has potential is what keeps us going and not chucking it.

    Congratulations on the success thus far and good luck with the next stages.

    • fenster says :

      Thank you. I love that feeling when the drafts start to come together. I wish like many, that it didn’t take multiple efforts, but that’s the nature of the beast. Well done.

  4. rolandclarke says :

    I keep editing because my beta readers keep finding errors and things to change… Glad that you have a saner system.

    • fenster says :

      Oh lord, I know that feeling. There is always something I miss, something I didn’t pay close enough attention to when I was going through it. Saner might be up for debate.

  5. Shell Flower says :

    I’ve learned to love editing. You are so right that a bad manuscript is just not a good idea. Working with a friend on her ARC that had already been critiqued by dozens of people, she is still finding small typos. You just gotta keep editing to the bitter end and it IS worth it. I’m glad you are happy with your manuscript. That’s an awesome feeling! Lovely photo of the UW. I live sorta near there, so yeah, it’s been a lovely spring. Glad we are getting rain this year 🙂

    • fenster says :

      Took the family on a Seattle vacation recently. We like to go in the early Spring or Winter to avoid the cruise ship chaos. I think small errors are hard to eliminate in longer work, and I can tolerate a few here and there. It only really gets at me when someone hands me a story, a supposed finished project and there is a mistake in the first line. Shudder!

  6. jmh says :

    Writers are the worst judges of their own work, especially while it’s in progress. It’s so easy for us to think it sucks! I’m glad you found the opposite–your rule about finishing the first draft is awesome.

    As an editor by trade, I completely agree with you about the importance of editing. And I thank you. In journalism school they taught us never to spell a word or name wrong. “If you can’t get that right, readers will think you didn’t get anything else right either.”

    Good rule of thumb for any writing, I’d say.

    • fenster says :

      I totally agree! A great rule of thumb. Mistakes happen in writing (and editing), but it doesn’t take long to see where someone has edited their work and when they haven’t.

      I often wonder what editing as a profession would be like. I’m not careful enough to believe I could ever do it for money, but it seems like it might be crazy, insane, monotonous, and a million other things all at the same time.

      • jmh says :

        To be honest, it gets really frustrating a lot of the time. But a lot of the work I get is quite rough. If I got more manuscripts where I could focus on big picture stuff instead of, “Um…you know you don’t have a plot, right?” it would be more fun.

  7. Liesbet says :

    Ryan, as you write your way through the alphabet in this A-Z challenge, my respect and understanding for you is growing so much! Your topics are spot on and there is always the familiarity factor! Even though I am not a native English speaker, I hate coming across typos and mistakes in the books, magazines, newspapers, and blogs I read. Especially of the bestseller kind. And, for some reason, I always find some, without trying. It is a pet peeve of mine (when it comes to printed literature), although I know that I am guilty of typos as well. Everyone is and you can only reread your work so many times. Ideally, I reread my blogs a few more times, but that would be even more time-consuming than it already is! I learned today that I should wait until after the first draft , at least, to have anyone else read my intended book! Thanks for the advice and congratulations on almost having finished your third book!!!

    Liesbet @ Roaming About – A Life Less Ordinary

    • fenster says :

      Wow, your comments are quite flattering. Thank you. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know you and conversing on both our blogs.

      In wish some others would see the value of editing. I imagine trying to read a text in a language that wasn’t my first, and finding mistakes. How frustrating.

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