More Adventures in Editing
Now that it’s December a lot of people have either finished their stupid NanoWriMo crap or have made some progress on it. So an entry on editing seemed like a good idea. Plus I’m working on some editing right now, so it’s fresh in my mind.
(Of course if you slopped your way through NanoWriMo, probably the best idea would be a complete rewrite, but let’s not worry about that for the purposes of this entry.)
Basically when you’re editing there are in my mind two main types of editing.
First are the technical edits. These are the basic things like typos, comma splices, and all that other stuff that’s only fun for a few sick people. That’s the pretty obvious stuff that MS Word or some grammar junkie can point out to you.
The second kind of edits are the subjective ones. These involve the overall content. That’s mostly what I’ve been doing for the last 10 days or so since I finished my last story. This entails the plot holes like a guy being named Bob at one point at Steve at another or at one point you say Bob is 27 and the next you say he’s 32. That happens to me a few times because my memory sucks.
Or maybe you just decide after giving it a read through that you really don’t like how a scene plays out. Like with this story (skip to the end of Chapter 26) I was just this morning working on rewriting a scene where one of our heroes dies because I didn’t like how it worked the first time. It seemed too forced and as my note says, if it was so easy for them to escape, why didn’t they already? Duh. Actually the last 5 chapters of that story have a number of things that really need rewritten because I don’t like how they played out.
Of course when you’re doing 8 stories in a series like I am, there’s the added thing I call retroactive continuity. It’s like when I decide in Volume 8 to change something, which in turn affects something in Volume 3. In this case too it was the prequel story I wrote about the witch coven that had to be incorporated into previous stories. That can be a real pain in the butt, though you have to wonder if JK Rowling or Stephanie Meyer or any of them ever wish they could go back and change some things.
In editing a lot of people talk about “killing your darlings” as in the parts of the story you really like. Of more concern really is to kill the things your bothers. You know, when you go back and there’s just a line or scene or something that just kind of bugs you or strikes as being a bit off. Chances are if you think that, so will any reader. Like the following exchange from this story:
“Yeah, well, you don’t look it.” To her surprise, the girl dropped to her knees and began to sob. Renee reached out and put a hand on the girl’s shoulder. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean—”“No, you’re right,” the girl said. “I’m still just a little girl. I miss Mommy so much. Why did she have to go away?”