I’ve always loved writing. It’s such a cleansing feeling, pouring out all of my thoughts and feelings onto an eagerly awaiting blank canvas. Emptying my cluttered mind into a perpetual archive for all who are interested to enjoy. Most of my works have been meager in size. Years of short stories, poetry and songs have amassed, each one an instant gratification for my never-ending desire to express myself. In college, the writing became more rewarding, as I learned to challenge myself with styles and topics I had never thought to explore. Research and structure became the new norm, and I was surprised to find out that I actually enjoyed it. Now, in my journey to become a novelist, I am reaching a more profound love for the art than I have ever known before. Editing, I am finding, is the one caveat to that new found level of passion.
Never before had I written such a large story. Every project had been finished within a week or two, so it was easy to ensure that all of the pieces fit throughout the process. As I reach day five of my editing phase, it is painfully clear that my many moments of inspiration may not have been so perfectly pieced together. In fact, it’s down-right laughable in some areas. I can’t complain though. It’s a learning process, and I’m in this for the long haul.
The biggest mistake I have made, to date, is the way I looked at editing. My original perception of it. Somehow, even after reading so many of the great self-help books and receiving sage advice from seasoned writers, I still had it in my mind that my first draft would be a very complete version of the story; only in need of a few grammatical tweaks. Boy was I wrong! Yeah, I understand now what a bare-bones skeleton the first draft really is. Especially after all of the rows of ‘literary gold’ now staring back at me through its heavy red slash. I have come to cherish sticky notes now. My entire manuscript is covered in them, for lack of space in the graffiti-covered margins.
Having the entire project on paper is a great benefit in the editing phase, though. It’s so much easier to spot redundancy when you are able to compare the pages, side-by-side. I love my computer, but there are some tasks that still seem easier when accomplished outside the confines of an electronic screen.
There is one aspect of editing that I am actually enjoying. Tightening up the plot twists. Because my chosen genre is Psychological Thriller, I am careful to strategically place the all so important subtle clues throughout my manuscript. It has been a much easier task during this phase. Even with all of my notes and outlines, I tend to write each scene with a bit of tunnel vision. Editing has helped me escape it.
So, what’s next for me? Well, I’ve accumulated much more content than I have removed, so I’ll be implementing that in draft two. Then it’s back to editing … all over again. I’ll probably loose a bit of hair before the process is over, but hey, I can always get a wig.
What have you found to help in the editing phase? Any suggestions? I’d love to hear what works for you!