Write Forward, Edit Back
Editing is a mind game. First, you must convince yourself that a significant portion of all that hard work you just poured forth must go. All those clever turns of phrase that had you giggling like a maniacal genius at 2 a.m., well . . . they just clog up the plot, I hate to say. Good editing is an exorcism. When done, a smoothed and efficient narration should shine forth interwoven with lingering threads of spellbinding dark places.
And that is just the plot.
The other chunk of editing is the grammatical. Here the mind game is simply paying attention. There are so many words of advice for finding those missed words, commas, or extra adjectives. I agree with the adage to read aloud, however . . . my husband doesn’t agree with the adage of reading aloud. We live in a very small space. He loves quiet. Its a conundrum.
What I’ve found that works for me is to edit chapters out of sequence. I think the hardest thing about editing is that at some point, you start reading. Wrong move! Reading is enjoyment, getting caught up again. You start seeing what you want to be there and miss the spelling mistakes.
I did this somewhat in Born of Water. There I developed another technique I use that is related: I read/edit all the chapters in the same POV to make sure the character stays consistent. But I’ll talk more about that when I write about character development tricks. I’m trying to stay focused on editing. 😉
This idea of mixing up the chapters came to me when I was working on a blog post, oddly enough. Wanting to share a piece of Born of Water, I pasted over the section, wrote the post, and then looked at it again a few days later. I must say, I was really disappointed with my writing. It didn’t pop. I thought it was actually a little childish. Eeek!
I started working on cleaning up just that little post to really make it zing. And then the next time, when I posted a bit from Rule of Fire, I did the same thing. Only that time, I found myself pasting the edits done for the blog back into the manuscript. It had changed that much.
I suppose I could copy bits of chapters into another document, edit, and then paste back. But, I’m trying to train myself to concentrate on just the random chapter I’ve selected to work on. I’m paying attention to just the one page in front of me (whose a good girl?). If I have my doubts, I’ll copy and paste to a fresh document. Worse case scenario, I’ll give my husband earplugs. I think he always wanted a set of the Bose sound dampening ones . . . .