by Lillian Csernica on June 6, 2014
Now and then I get lucky and my state of mind aligns with my current work needs in a way that helps both. Right now I really want to get rid of everything unnecessary in my life. All the clutter, all the clothes, all the accessories, all the STUFF that owns me more than I own it. That’s a helpful mindset when I look at a manuscript and see everything that does not need to be there. At the moment, I have a 575 page novel on my desk, along with a 45 page/12,200 word novella. Both must be edited for length then polished for quality. I am indeed buried in paperwork.
Editing is a lot like sculpting. The more you take away, the more the shape emerges from the granite, clay, metal, etc. The more words you take away, as long as they’re the right words, the better the story emerges. The stronger the story, the clearer the theme, and the more vibrant the characters.
Opinion varies on how much editing is enough editing. When do you know? How can you tell you’re done? “Good enough” isn’t good enough, right? So how do you really know when the article or story or novel is ready for the marketplace?
Here’s one opinion: How to Edit Your Book in Four Steps
I think that system makes a lot of sense. Step #4 is going to take a big chunk of time, but there’s no other way to be really sure the writing flows smoothly.
This is a more detailed approach: Line Editing in 10 Easy Steps
Very useful. I think I’ll be printing out a copy of this and keeping it by my desk. This is serious nuts and bolts HELP.
Some days I get so caught up in the microwriting I can’t step back and see the big picture. Given that I have to cut at least 100 pages from my novel, I need to know a reliable method for chopping out great big chunks of the book without damaging the story. Follow that link to some great advice by thriller author Jodie Renner.
Once I have the manuscript trimmed to the proper word limit, it’s time to do the polishing. How do you make sure every chapter, scene, paragraph, and sentence is worth keeping?
I will say it is possible to get carried away with the editing process. Every writer is different. Every set of work habits is custom-tailored to the mind, style, and real life of each writer. With respect to the author of this piece, I believe his methods are way too complicated.
Time to go apply some of what these links have taught me. Wish me luck!