** THIS IS A REPOST OF A VERY EARLY BLOG POST **
I have just realised the problem with editing.
You can read the whole book, start to finish, making ‘editing’ changes as you go but by the time you reach the end, you still have to go back and make sure that the first lot of ‘edits’ you made were spelled correctly, have the right grammar and don’t hold their own sinkhole issues.
Inevitably, you are going to find something else misspelled or that needs changed. Usually for me, it’s making a ‘tell’ a ‘show’ or vice versa. Mostly commonly – turning a paragraph of description into speech.
Now, you’ve made even more changes, that you need to go back and check on. It is a never ending cycle. Now I understand why my publisher/editor told me on round 5 that unless it was a spelling mistake, major grammar issue or plot trouble, we wouldn’t be making any more changes that time around. You could probably go on editing your book forever…no matter how perfect you think it is, there is going to be a mistake somewhere.
I read an article recently about naming your characters and how you shouldn’t have the same first letter for characters and how you shouldn’t name your characters with similar names. Well, Runaway Girl has…Maya/Megan/Maria, Amelia/Angela, Walter/Malcolm, Lucius/Lucas and I could go on. If I was to go through the book and reassign new names to the second character with an A or M first name, or a name that sounded similar to another one, I would be there forever. Trying not to cross characters is always difficult, I think it would be even worse if you followed this rule religiously.
As it is, I discovered that in Book 4, I have a character called Walter…even though I had a character called Walter in Book 1. Since Book 4 isn’t anywhere near editing yet, that was easy to fix. A mass search for Walter renamed the poor kid. But if you looked at the overall series, it would be the same. About the only way I could change that, would be to write out a list of A-Z names that I liked and which were appropriate for my characters and use a max of 4.3 letters for each book. I have more than 4 characters in the first half of Book 1, never mind the whole thing.
But, I digress. I will not be changing my characters names to suit this rule. It’s fine if you want to, but I have more than fifteen finished novels and it would be impossible not to cross letters and similar names in at least one of them.
Which is just another reason I hate editing. You write a great book then you move on to write another or read back one that’s finished and you think…oh crap! I’ve used that name/plot/character trait before. What am I going to do?? Well, I did this more than once.
When I have trouble with a story, I will write out, on separate documents, the various endings it could have in detail. One story has eight possibly paths and I never finish the story because none of them fit right. So what did I do? I used one plot for another story, which it did fit into. Then, I found a good ending for the original story and guess what? Crossovers. Certain paragraphs were verbatim in both finished novels…I had to re-write about two whole chapters of one book to fix my mistake. It took two weeks of adjustments to make it right.
Would I have noticed it if I wasn’t editing? No. Would I have been happier without noticing it? Yes! But, it had to be done, because some day, I hope both stories will find their way into the wider world and I do not want to be a writer known for having the same ‘something’ in two vastly different novels.
So, as much as I hate it, I will continue on with my editing, re-editing and re-re-editing. Because in the end, getting a book to perfection might be impossible…but it makes you a better writer for trying.