Frosted Leaf, Aaron Burden

Editing: the re-read

The first step with any edit is to re-read everything you’ve already written.

I tend to go through a lot of varying emotions during that initial re-read.

It’s an ominous start because while I remember writing, I always have a feeling that the writing is crap. I don’t know what I’m getting into as I open it up and start on page one. Will this be awful? Will I have to toss it all and start over? Will I be surprised that it isn’t awful? Will I never want to write again?

Going into this re-read, I knew what to expect: the first half of what I wrote in November is really solid. The second half? Not so much. However, I was still surprised at just how solid that first half is. Sure, it’s wordy – I was trying to write 50K words in a month, after all – and slightly repetitive, but you know what? It’s really good. Like, really good. Like, even though I wrote it and knew what was happening, I still felt like it’s a page-turner and felt invested in the characters and the story. In fact, re-reading it is fueling my drive to want to finish it.

During a re-read, I do minor editing. Mostly for my typos and awkward word choices and unnecessary sentences or words. In the first half, I ended up cutting a lot that just didn’t need to be there anymore. However, I didn’t see any major edits that I need to do. I could probably add another scene or two, but I don’t want to add a scene just to up the word count. It needs to make sense and move the story along and right now, I’m not sure what that would be.

Then I got to the second half of what I have written.
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Colored Pencils by Martin Vorel

Making time to revise

My writing group is going to read and respond to the final 70 pages of my WIP by the beginning of August. The problem? I needed to revise things in those last 70 pages — quickly!

Revising for me is a two-step process. First, I print out the chapters or scenes I want to work on and use different colored pens to mark everything up. (I talk more about my process in the “I should be editing” post.) Second, I take all those changes and type them up, transferring them onto the computer. I like this way of revisions. It works for me. I need the visual and the two-step process to make sure my revisions work times two.

But it all takes up a lot of time. And I don’t have a lot of that.

I have a 9 to 5 job (that I love, don’t get me wrong) and in the evenings I tend to be distracted very easily. Pirates baseball, Food Network, Netflix, my online communities, cooking, reading, and then of course sleeping, all seem to take priority in the evenings.
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Road by Marcin Milewski

A (finally) completed draft

This weekend, I finally kicked myself into gear and wrote the last missing scene in my work-in-progress — a very necessary somewhat-climactic scene that I was avoiding. I have no good excuses for the avoidance, honestly. Just that I knew it was an important scene, that it was necessary, and that it needed to be written. I’d already written the concluding chapter, which comes after this scene, but this one took months to write. I don’t know what clicked or changed, but Sunday morning I sat on my bed, still in my pajamas, and knocked out the 2,000 word scene.

But I still have a long road ahead of me.

Even though the draft wasn’t complete, I’ve already gone through and done massive editing on the entire novel. A lot changed. A lot still needs to be changed. Yes, I have an ending (have had the ending for a while; this one came easily whereas others in the past have been more difficult to discover), and I’ve finally written this missing scene, but that doesn’t mean everything fits together. It’s complete, yes, but it’s not finished.

So what’s next?
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Solitude, by Vinoth Chandar / flickr

Dragging my feet with these edits

I really have no good reason why it’s taking me so long to get this done. I have no excuse. Catching up on every saved episode of “Jane the Virgin” on my DVR and watching every episode of “Chopped” listed on On Demand are not excuses. Neither is looking at the pages that need to be edited and then turning on my computer to play around on Pinterest for an hour.

I almost typed “I don’t know what’s wrong with me” but that would be a lie, and this blog is all about telling the truth in writing. I know exactly why I’m dragging my feet: I’m scared of finishing this novel.

Fear’s come up before on this blog. Honestly, fear seems to be the strongest emotion when it comes to me and writing. It’s mostly fear of the unknown and fear of repetition, which I’m doing pretty well now, talking about fear all over again.

This is how it works: I’m so close to being done with not only this novel but a major revision of it. I’ve been so close for months. I tried to give myself a deadline. I said ‘by March’ and now I’m saying ‘by April’ which is all well and good but self-created deadlines are much easier to break than deadlines imposed by outside sources. I don’t have anyone telling me that this needs to be done by X date. I don’t have anyone eager to read it (that I know of). I have a writing group (whom I adore) but with the way it’s set up, we do two chapters of mine every other month, or thereabouts. It’s a wonderful set up, and I’m not knocking it, but it’s not driving any urgency into me to get this done.
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Editing Again - WIP

I should be editing

I hate editing. I hate it so much.

Let me clarify: I hate editing my own work. I’m really good at taking the red pen to someone else’s work though. But when it comes to mine, there are a lot of things I’d rather be doing. (Of course, I argue, most of the time there are a lot of things I usually do instead of writing, so is it really a surprise that editing falls to the side as well?)

The problem is, I edit by hand, which makes for a two-step process.

1. I print out a chapter and take a fun colored pen to it, crossing out words, adding more here and there, rearranging sentences, completely exing out an entire page. You know, the usual. With my current WIP, most pages show about 75% of the text changing. This is actually a pretty high percentage compared with my past novels, which might say I’m learning how better to edit myself. Or it might say that I’m just completely unsatisfied with everything. Either way. The pages get marked up all over the place. And then —

2. I have to take those marked-up pages and type all the edits back into my novel. This is the part I really hate because I already spent all that time editing by hand and then I still have to transfer all the edits over. In a way, this slides a second round of edits in there, because as I take the handwritten edits and move them back to my computer files, chances are good I’ll change something all over again. But still.
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