In the movies it looks so easy. A secluded location. Silence. An office, professionally decorated, window by the desk with breathtaking views. An author appears. Showered, well dressed, steaming beverage in hand. The author sits at his/her desk and bangs out their manuscript without even a hint of frustration or carpal tunnel.
For me it’s more like:
I’m in my pj’s, three sets of bags under my eyes from insomnia induced writing spells. Sippy cup of chocolate milk in hand because the toddler didn’t drink it, and I refuse to get up again. I’m not even at my desk for fear said toddler will do something devastating, which will end with a visit from children and family services. Blue’s Clue’s is my background music, and I’m gluing dyed pasta to construction paper in between paragraphs.
Granted, it’s not always so hectic for me. I try to wake up three hours before my toddler so I can write in silence. Even if I’m able to do this, writing is still not as simple as people think. It’s a process. You write, you edit, you re-write, you edit some more, and so on.
This week is all about editing for me. If you are one of those writers who edits as you type, you are my idol. I have yet to master this ability. When I write, I don’t stop to make corrections. I let the words flow willy nilly in an effort to get my idea down before my muse gets ADD. Afterward I begin the tedious editing process.
I begin with removing certain words. I have an exhaustive list. You can find a similar list here. (This site is loaded with tips, so be sure to browse through). You will notice weaknesses in your writing, and you can customize your editing list to account for these. I have a habit of overusing certain words, so I’ve added those to my list.
After removing these words I check my MS for the following: sensory details, character and scene description, exposition/information dumps (show don’t tell), speech attributions, POV errors, pacing errors, and so much more. I won’t go into detail, I’ve left links below. Once I’ve finished this, I do it all over again. I read my MS until I’ve memorized it, even then I’ve almost always overlooked something. This is where critiques are an absolute necessity. After the critique edits are added, I send my MS to my editor, who is a god. Editors are invaluable. I’ve read many an indie work in need of some editing TLC. Most editors will charge around three cents a word for heavy editing. A good editor is worth every penny. Once the final edits are added I proof again, and ask betas to proof.
There are many editing rules. An author once told me, “rules are made to be broken.” The key is knowing when to break them, and if you do make sure you have a good reason for doing so. I’ve learned a lot from Linda Cassidy Lewis. She’s like my own personal Miyagi. Her blog is full of tips for writers.
This site is on christian fiction writing, but the tips there can be applied to all genres. Author Jeff Gerke has put tons of information on writing/editing in one spot. It’s well worth the read!
If you’re new at writing, and it’s not been the easy art you imagined, don’t give up. It takes time, practice, and patience. If you’re a pro, feel free to leave your own tips. I’m open to any new ideas, especially if it makes the writing/editing process easier, as that leaves me more time for pasta art.
Now, I’m off to edit.