Now that I’ve received feedback from as many beta readers as I believe I’m going to hear from (Less than half got back to me, something to note in the future), it’s time to start editing.
I tend to edit as I write. I’ve been known to spend over an hour working over a single paragraph, trying to get it to flow just right. The good news is, extra effort while writing my first draft should leave me with less work to do when it comes time to do a full-on edit. If we take into account the amount of time I spent going back and fixing things as I went, then I’m probably on my second or third draft by now.
That being said, I’m certainly not immune to making a boatload of mistakes. It’s the nature of the craft, when you’re so close to it you see things as you want them to be, not necessarily as they are. I still need to do a good, thorough edit just as much as anyone.
For a lot of writers, editing tends to be the most dreaded stage of writing, because it doesn’t feel creative. In fact, it almost feels the opposite, because you end up spending a lot of time deleting sections of writing that you put so much of yourself into.
In an early section of my book, one of my characters reads over a suicide note he’d been writing for two years. When I put his note together, I was structuring it off a few real-life ones I’d read online, while also using it as a tool to provide some backstory on the character. However, the note became a point of contention for a number of my readers, who pointed out that it was too long, too this, or not enough of that.
So, with that in mind, I spent the day re-writing the note to try and take into account any criticisms while also maintaining the original purpose. The interesting thing about re-writing is it takes a lot longer than writing the original. Here I am going back and forth between tabs, making sure I keep the really important points, deleting the less important ones, and restructuring the sentences with a slight change in voice. By the time I’d finished producing a second, and then third note, I’d spent three or four times longer than when I’d written it the first time.
It felt like hacking at a wooden statue with an axe, and then slowly gluing it back together in a different pose. But at the end of the day, if I’ve done my job correctly, the new pose should look better than the old one.
I’m thankful there aren’t a lot of sections that need to be totally re-worked like this, because I fear if there was I might get bored and frustrated, and not do the best job possible.
How do you, my readers feel about editing? Is it a strong or weak point for you? Do you dread it like I do?