The Spiky Bits of Editing


So I’ve been editing. Incidentally, one of the best ways to edit a manuscript is to leave it alone, to let it sit, gathering dust, growing moss, becoming an entire ecosystem in your hard drive, because when you get back to it, you’ll have forgotten what you wrote.

And that’s good.

Because when you get to that point, when you see a manuscript as an outsider would, as a reader would, as someone who doesn’t reside in the strange landscape of your own mind would, you pick up on things you might otherwise not notice.

This manuscript’s been hanging around for a long time. I’m still on my first pass through it, fractured as the world was with before and after.

Before there was a person so empty of humanity, he’d slash Meals on Wheels for hungry, lonely seniors, but I digress. Our own real-life villain.

But I digress.

Editing. We were talking about editing. Writer, edit thyself.

Back to it. There’s some familiarity as I read through, but much that’s unexpected. I’m finding spots that normally might take several passes to find, spots that feel bare, spots that need more.

It’s also, as always, a relief to come across the parts that work, the funny bits that get me, leave me laughing, literally, at my own jokes.

Then there are the pockets of quicksand, the parts like rotten fruit, impossible to tidy. The parts that become a sea of strikeouts and red revisions.

That’s editing.

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2 thoughts on “The Spiky Bits of Editing

  1. @breakerofthings

    Yup. Sounds about right. There are times when you just can’t leave something for that long, of course. Based on my own experience, I always advise students to build in a two week gap between writing and editing. What you intended to write might still be in your mind, but what you’ll have forgotten what you actually wrote and the discrepancies between what you meant to say and what you actually wrote should show up. I also advocate reading stuff aloud as a benchmark for good writing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Absolutely, leaving it this long was really not intentional, but unfortunately I keep being rewarded for my procrastination!

      And yes, reading aloud is always useful, but this manuscript isn’t anywhere near there yet. I’m still coloring in the outlines! 😉


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