Bit later than planned (see tomorrow’s journal…)
I have been in the fog – editing two books.
One is close to my heart because it’s the first collection I expected to get published. Yet it still isn’t! I think it’s an attachment issue now that if I let it go free and it’s not received well I will be likely to cry.
Writers get emotionally involved. And we should. If your work isn’t brilliant – don’t put it out there for sale. There is nothing wrong with asking for feedback but never publish unless your are sure you’ve given it 100%.
Caution! that doesn’t mean it has to be perfect.
This is the “original” I have been working on for over 2 years now…
Editing and editing until you lose whatever you started with is like beginning with light pruning of an overgrown rose bush to end up with severely hacked jagged stems and nothing else.
You don’t want that & neither do readers.
So if you are in the EDIT SUITE but it feels more like a hole, try these:
- cover the first paragraph – does the story lose anything? You may find your actual start is much further into the writing. The beginning is your position as the writer, for the Reader it could be a few chapters later.
- as above – critically look at the End. Can you finish sooner? Do you need to finish up all the loose ends? Does your story work better with some ambiguity?
- who is the story about? You may have written from Lady Smith’s view but if the activity surrounds the Butler – perhaps he should be the lead.
- Is your lead right? If the story seems contrived, try switching the character’s sex, age, morals – maybe you have written another version and he/she needs a bit of tweaking.
- What about the location? If you are using a setting you really love you may have lots of detail – does it work with the story? Maybe you can save the great descriptions for some other tale and move your characters somewhere that better reflects them.
- Timing?! Similarly – is the period correct? If you like your character but they sound a bit old-fashioned, maybe move the story to an earlier decade. Or is the true tale about what happened in 1890 not the reveal in 1990?
I have experienced most of these niggles. One story that I am still trying to finish may need a change of ‘lead’ but all the characters will remain as will the setting and action but the perspective (as it is) lacks oomph! So I have taken it out of the collection and left it in my DRAFTS Folder for later consideration.
Another, I loved but initial readers thought it was only OK. So I am re-working that too. And I am trying these ideas (picked up from Open University courses) ~~
1. analyse the adverbs – can you replace the verb+adverb with another verb? EG: read quickly > scan.
2. adjectives next! Do they really add to the story? Can you ‘show’ someone shouting angrily rather than making the reader ‘read it’ – “I am not stopping!” he shouted angrily.
“I am not stopping!” his face was red as he pushed his foot down hard making the car speed forward.
3. Mix sentences, short-long. Short reads differently, try it! Read something by another writer aloud and you will see how the rhythm changes.
Practically – you need: highlighter pens or pencils & don’t try edit all things at once; do a read for spelling, then another for plot; then adverbs etc. Each run through will sharpen the work.
Finally: enjoy the process. This is the hard work. Get rests/breaks and don’t force deadlines for the sake of creativity. You will only hate yourself later 😉
Equally spend as much time as you want to on the Cover Design, Layouts etc – it is your book so make every bit of it count. I spent a day sifting through Amazon’s own Cover Creator images to find what I wanted. At the end I was still unsure. A week later and more hours – I finally found something that worked. There was a bit of compromise but it was my choice. In the end, after the days feeling frustrated, I was glad that I didn’t rush and just pick something…
Also, look critically at your ‘extra material’ do you really need to show a long list of: Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3 and so on. Maybe you can just start or give the reader another way to navigate with sections instead. I used this approach in my novel Foreplay – after adding each chapter, headings and links, I took them all out! But it’s better with a smaller selection of sections and they have names rather than just numbers – you’re a writer – get creative!
So, go forth and Edit!