Everyone writer knows the value of editing, both your own edits and the edits other people do for you. I had a community critique the first few chapter of my writing–the initial writing, mind–and after a bit, I noticed patterns. Patterns are good. They mean that I can predict the issues, sometimes while I’m writing. The largest problem for me, at least, is knowing which scenes are needed. I’d like to think of chapters as stepping stones. Do they follow a path? Or do some of them sidestep for no reason?
Now, say I identified a scene as a sidestep. Do I delete it? Not exactly. I cut and paste that section into a file called “Deleted Scenes”. That way, if I decide later to re-insert it in a better place or use some imagery, it’s fairly simple to go dig it up…perhaps not as simple as it could be, that file is a catch-all with no organization. I might be wise to start labeling them with headings and use an automatically generated table of contents. Maybe I’ll do that next time.
The larger problem with cutting out scenes is dealing with transitions. Even in my first draft, one chapter flows into the next very smoothly, so when I cut out a section, I have to figure out a way to tie a knot without it being obvious.
I tend to be a minimalist with my writing, which is fine except when an explanation is needed. I hate spelling things out for the reader. I really do. “They” have brains–can’t they use them?! But, we writers are told to not make the reader have to think. I suppose, I can explain the technical details, but I’m not explaining the overall theme. As a child, I hated it when a book ended like this, “…the moral of the story is don’t talk to strangers.” Which actually isn’t the greatest moral because at one time, even your family were strangers to you. And sometimes I thought the moral was something completely different. Sorry. I went off on a rant.
The easiest part of editing to me is actually copy-editing: making sure to dot my “i”s, cross my “t”s, and make sure every comma is in its place. Making sure that I have replaced all repetitive words with less repetitive ones is my bigger challenge, actually. I also love gerunds, and I sometimes leave them as full sentences–which they aren’t. If you’re trying to remember what a gerund is, it is everything from “Making sure” to “repetitive ones” in my previous sentence. It’s a phrase that is acting as a noun. Oh, goodies! You can obviously tell I’m in my logic side of my brain right now.
So, if you read the book, the rules are thus:
- If you see a typo, don’t tell me.
- No matter how horrific it is, it was more worth your pennies than that b-grade film that entertained you for less time than my book did.
- Plot holes happen. It makes more sense than real life does, which is full of all sorts of holes and wanders around with random occurrences.