I’ve written a few post about Editing, since I started this blog, so excuse me if I repeat myself. It’s unintentional.
There’s really only one problem I have with editing. Generally, I quite enjoy it. I like tightening the story, heading Beta reader’s opinions and seeing what ideas they come up with, for any changes. I love being able to change anything and everything I want, a million times or more, before it goes to the editor.
My system is pretty much to have gone through the manuscript 5-10 times, for various edits, before I even submit it for consideration. Then, after that, I hand it to my beta’s for a few months, let them tinker about and give their ideas. Then I read those ideas and pick and choose any that I like, to implement them. For example, A Royal Craving was my second book about a deaf character, but it wasn’t until a beta reader with experience with deaf people read it, that I even noticed I hadn’t mentioned anything about their voice, about their tone or any speech impediment, or even how they became deaf in the first place. It’s the little details that matter, so that was a major flaw in my story, that I was then able to fix, because of that beta reader.
However, the absolutely worse part is actually the one part you can’t avoid: reading it over!
I really, really hate reading the story a million times. It’s the reason why I try to leave at least a month between readings., because this is the part of editing that makes me hate my own story. I get so bored of reading it over and over and over again. And, it’s unavoidable.
Think about it (this is my system, but doesn’t have to be yours) –
You finish your writing of the story and are ready to edit.
You read it, looking for small spelling/grammar mistakes first
then you read it again, for any plot or character flaws
You make changes, to fix those spelling/grammar, plot and character flaws
Then you have to read it again, to make sure you didn’t make a mistake, while fixing those spelling/grammar, plot and character flaws
No doubt, you find something to fix, add, change or delete
You have to read it again, to make sure it all makes sense and you haven’t made any new mistakes, while fixing those spelling/grammar, plot and character flaws and finding those “somethings” to fix, add, change or delete
It’s a never ending circle of hate, boredom and loathing for your own story. Yet, somehow, it makes it better. In the end, you usually either end up over-editing and having to start again, or you come out of it with something that pretty much resembles what you were aiming for, when you started writing. Only, without all that nonsense in between.
Oh, and don’t talk to me about word count. The bane of my existence! This, technically, is the same as above, because trying to cut down word count actually forces you to read more of your story, in a skimming action. Which is worse than reading it in full.
A recent story I wrote, for an anthology by Encompass Ink, was supposed to be 5 K – 15 K and no more. I always aim for the largest end of the word count, because I write like I talk and it’s easier to tell a complete story with the most words. However, my story, “The One That Got Away” was 25 K by the time I’d finished writing it and kind of precious to me. I’d been planning to make it a novel, based on a YA story I wrote (with some naughty parts). But, I figured I’d write what came to mind and, depending on the overall length, I’d decide whether to submit as my short story entry for the anthology or whether to keep it as a novel. At 25 K, it was smack in the middle of both. So I decided to edit it for the short, because I didn’t really want to add any more, to make it a novel and I don’t like the idea of publishing novellas, though I can’t explain why.
Anyway, it took me WEEKS of reading, re-reading, re-re-reading and editing hell, before I finally got it down to 20 K. Then I sent it to my Beta reader, who gave me some handy tips about what to cut out. After another TWO weeks or reading, re-reading, re-re-reading and even more editing hell, I actually managed to get it down to 16.5 K. After that, I entered the hell of “word count elimination”.
By this, I mean that I brought up my very long list of over 100 over-used words and began trying to see what could be cut from my story. Then, but, suddenly, tenderly, finally, as though, in his hand (a good one to cut) and many, many more, were suddenly (see what I did there 😉 ) removed from my story. After an entire day of deleting, rewording and making sure it made sense, I was down to the magic number – 14,995 words.
But, wait…I haven’t read it since then. I don’t know if I over-deleted or over-edited. Thankfully, this is where I take a brief break from the story. I sent it to my Beta and have another 6 weeks to do one final read through, to make sure it is in tip-top condition, before submitting it for the anthology.
And, what, might you ask, will I do if it’s not accepted? Probably spend a really, really long time crying. Then I’ll pick myself up and submit it to my publisher as a short. And, along the way, I might consider re-submitting some of the scenes I cut. Though, to be quite honest, I like how it’s turned out. If it’s not accepted, I’ll simply publish it as a short story and see how it goes. I might even write a few more short stories and create an anthology of theme-related shorts. Who knows?
The sky is the limit!