Editing is an Opportunity


Once again, a reminder that a contest relating to Aunty Ida starts later this week, with a prize and  everything.

And now on to other things. Let’s talk about the magic of editing.

When I put it that way, it makes it sound like I love editing, like it is a time when butterflies flit around my head, and small, furry creatures make their way to my windowsill where they serenade me as I cheerfully wave my hands and make my work better. Yeah, right.

Editing can be brutal.

But if you want your work to shine, you’ve got to be ruthless, and you’ve got to be ruthless time and time again, pass after pass. Does a section catch you every time you go past it, even if nothing, technically, is wrong with it? Rework it.

Have sentence you love just for the way it sounds? Is it advancing your story or your characters? No? Might be time to chop it.

Editing is a seemingly endless series of decisions, some small, like word choice, and some huge, like the effectiveness of a scene. I think of my first draft as making the block of granite. After you’ve done that, it’s time to start carving.

Now it sounds all doom and gloom, and I started out so promisingly, calling editing “magic.” That’s because it may have its rough side, but it also allows something life doesn’t always give us: a second chance.

Reading through, you realize there’s a missing element of life, and you need another character. You can invent one, and make sure he’s seen at all the necessary spots to integrate him. Your way out of the corner didn’t quite work, you need to invent something. Fine, go back and make sure it doesn’t come out of nowhere.

With editing you can add, you can take away, you can fix the mistakes you didn’t even know you were making. Editing is an opportunity. Use it wisely.

Need something to read? Check out  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only) .

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