Friday, April 5, 2013

Writing A Novel - Editing

A to Z Challenge E
After you think you are done writing your novel, when you first reach "The End", you can sit back, relax and brace yourself for the real work ahead of you: EDITING. Depending on who you talk to, this is either the most exciting part of the writing process, or the most dreaded. I fall somewhere in the middle. I am well aware that this is my least practiced skill (so therein lies the dread), but when I have successfully worked on editing short pieces I have felt more fulfilled than ever before.

Since I have much to learn about the process of editing a novel and feel ill-equipped to advise on the topic, I instead offer you some notes I've picked up along the way.
    On The Terror of Editing

    When you are faced with the decision to cut out words and sentences that you created it feels that brutal. Your novel - every sentence, word and piece of punctuation - is personal and a piece of you. To admit that some of those don't belong, or are "wrong" can be painful. (This is also why it can be difficult to hear even the best intended criticism of these words!). Here are a couple of thoughts from authors reflecting the terror of editing:
    • "To make the piece work, it's essential to murder on demand." - The Memoir Project, Marion Roach Smith p. 103
    •  "...what's left out may haunt you as much as what gets included." - The Memoir Project, Marion Roach Smith p. 102
    • "Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts." Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott p. 25
    On Why Editing is Necessary

    In short, Anne Lamott's terrifying statement above - that all good writing begins terribly - is why editing is a necessary evil.   However, to get an idea where the "terrible" comes from, here are a few more notes on the topic:
    • "It's not volume we need. It's precision aimed at illustrating your unique point of view, and that's what editing is all about."- The Memoir Project, Marion Roach Smith p.105
    •  "The difference between a word and the 'right' word is the difference between a lightning bug and lightning. " - Mark Twain
    • "The effect of judicious cutting is immediate and often amazing -- literary Viagra." - On Writing, Stephen King p. 223
    •  "What the Formula taught me is that every story is collapsible to some degree." - On Writing, Stephen King p. 223

    On How Editing Is Done

    It's feared. It must be done. Everyone has their own method (I'm still developing mine!). Here are  tips on how to edit your novel from some seasoned veterans:
    • "Pencil in hand, touch each word in every sentence, make hard decisions." - The Memoir Project, Marion Roach Smith p. 108
    • "If you find yourself skimming a sentence or paragraph thinking the reader will enjoy herself later, forget it." - The Memoir Project, Marion Roach Smith p. 109
    • "Toss it even if you love it." - On Writing, Stephen King p. 197
    • "Your job during or just after  the first draft is to decide what something or somethings [your book] is about. Your job in the second draft -- one of them, anyway -- is to make that something even more clear." On Writing, Stephen King p. 201
    • "2nd Draft = 1st Draft - 10%. Good Luck." - On Writing, Stephen King (in quoting an editor's note from a submission to Ellery Quenn's Mystery Magazine) p. 222
    • "The story always comes first." - On Writing, Stephen King p. 231
    • "...take your story through at least two drafts; the one with the door closed and the one you do with it open." - On Writing, Stephen King p. 209
    • "It's a good idea to wait awhile before your reread your writing." - Writing Down The Bones, Natalie Goldberg, p. 205
    On Dulling The Pain Of Editing

    Natalie Goldberg's book Writing Down the Bones is just about one of the best reads for the insecure writer. She has a wonderful way of freeing writers from fear and bring joy back to every part of the writing process - even editing. Here are some soothing words to end off on, to remind you that editing is something every writer goes through and that it can be just as creatively fulfilling as putting together your first draft:
    • "See revision as 'envisioning again'." - Writing Down The Bones, Natalie Goldberg, p. 209
    • "Often you might read page after page in your notebooks and only come upon one, two, or three good lines. Don't be discouraged." - Writing Down The Bones, Natalie Goldberg, p. 210
    More Guidance On Editing

    If these wise words are not enough for you (and I do realize they only scratch the surface) , them I highly recommend you read the books they come from.
    Writing Down The Bones Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott Stephen King On Writing  The Memoir Project

    In the meantime, here are some click-able resources:

  1. 11 Resources to Make Editing Your Novel Easier
  2. Editing Your First Novel: 7 Things You Need to Know
  3.  How To Edit Your Book In 4 Steps
  4. How to Edit a Novel Manuscript
  5. 1 comment:

    1. I am also in the middle! Great quotes! I really enjoyed them!

      An AtoZer,