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Thoughts on Editing...

After spending the weekend line editing--yes, the whole weekend, a total of 16 hours--I’ve come to a conclusion: editing, for me, is more fun than writing.

For those (few) of you who aren’t writers, you might not understand. I don’t think “fun” is word I've ever used to describe the initial writing process. It’s fun to come up with an idea. It’s fun to semi-plot it out (I say “semi” because I’m a crasher, not a planner). It’s fun naming characters and developing their worlds. It’s fun getting lost in those worlds, watching what your characters do, listening to their conversations, sharing their experiences, good or bad.

But actually writing the first draft? What a PIA. If I edit when as I go, it slows down the process so much I rapidly lose interest. If I don’t edit as I go (my preference) I feel I’m writing CRAPCRAPCRAP even though I know I’ll eventually go back and fix it.

I’m pressed for time I’m frequently interrupted, and I always lose track of what I’m writing. The direction of the story might change a dozen times. Characters come and go willy-nilly, without purpose or depth. Everything seems contrived. Stupidity abounds. More than once I’ve gotten halfway through a project only to banish it to the netherworld at the bottom of my hard drive.

When you edit, though, the threads of your story gradually weave together. Useless characters, plot points, scenes and conversations get sifted out like poop from a litter box. New scenes are written to draw everything together. Your conglomeration of ideas, bit by bit, looks and reads more like an actual story.

But line editing’s my favorite. Chop, chop, chop, chop, chop—all the useless, redundant words you missed the first ten times around. The typos. The lengthy sentences you never noticed before. Weird inconsistencies, like street names and eye color. Echoes. Repetition. Plus, how many times does your character have to say “just” “even” or “really” “well” or “okay”? How many times can he snap, sigh, shrug, or nod his head?

And when I chop a word here, a sentence there, my typically massive word count goes down. Just this weekend I slashed almost 3,000 unneeded words.

I feel purged (hence the icon).


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 15th, 2010 05:32 pm (UTC)
And here I thought the purpose of the icon was to make fun of me. ;-)

I love editing, too. At the beginning of each chapter, I put a post-it with the chapter's original word count. When it's all marked up and typed in, I run the count again and man, seeing that number decrease feels good. Because I know the story is easier to read and the pacing is better.


Love it too.
Feb. 16th, 2010 02:43 pm (UTC)
Soul sisters.. :)
Feb. 15th, 2010 06:32 pm (UTC)
I wish I could just write a first draft without editing as I go. I think it would help my stress levels so much.
Feb. 16th, 2010 02:44 pm (UTC)
If I hadn't learned how to do that I'd still be working on book # 2. ;)
Feb. 18th, 2010 04:11 am (UTC)
I'm trying to learn how to do that now. Just let my story and characters loose to have fun for the first draft. So far so good, but it's only been one chapter.
Feb. 19th, 2010 04:17 pm (UTC)
No, no--you're supposed to say "it's already one chapter"!

Call me Pollyanna.
Feb. 19th, 2010 05:20 pm (UTC)
LOL. Okay, Pollyanna, you're right. Only, now I can say it's *already* been two chapters because I wrote another one last night and am not touching it. :D
Feb. 19th, 2010 05:22 pm (UTC)
See?????? :)
Feb. 16th, 2010 02:31 pm (UTC)
Thanks! This is helpful stuff, which is the only reason I take time away from writing to read these posts. Encouraging to those of us still struggling out here in the distance, so far from the "final draft." (doing all the things you mention above)

Now you should probably go eat an apple.

Patti Mallett

Feb. 16th, 2010 02:45 pm (UTC)
Or a bunch of grapes. ;)

I prefer seedless.
Feb. 16th, 2010 02:45 pm (UTC)
*nods* This is exactly how I feel. Sometimes I wish first drafts would just magically appear so I could jump straight into the editing, haha. It is so much more fun cleaning up a novel than writing it, because then I know I'm crafting something great instead of simply chucking cringe-worthy words onto paper!
Feb. 16th, 2010 02:52 pm (UTC)
I often think I'd make a better editor than a writer.

...Of course it's always easier editing someone else's stuff.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )


Jeannine Garsee

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