Monday, October 30, 2006

Have you ever noticed that ‘edit’ is a four letter word?? That may explain why it’s so hard.

I hired a freelance editor recently. She was a kind lady, very knowledgeable and skilled. But. . .

“We’re going to have to cut chapter one,” she said.

“What! The entire chapter?”

“I’m afraid so. And your heroine’s goal is not clearly defined. I want to know what motivates her early on, the first paragraph if possible, and no later than the first or second page.”

Good grief! Still, I trusted her judgment, so after much angst, I cut chapter one and got to work revising chapter two. Six months later, I still have not finished applying all the changes she suggested.

In my defense, I’ve been quite busy finishing not one but two manuscripts. I’ve put together a proposal for a cozy I’d like to pitch to an agent. I’ve snagged two speaking engagements, AND I got my first copy editing job. Sound like I’m procrastinating?


That’s because I am. Editing is so painful sometimes—it involves cutting after all. Like a petulant child, I want to keep my story just as I envisioned it, with all of the details intact, and the storyline unchanged. In fact, when I started making revisions, I copied the entire manuscript into another folder and left the original intact, just in case I didn’t like the way it turned out. Hey, I never said I wasn’t stubborn.

In the long run, I know that the information gained from my experience with a freelance editor will prove invaluable. Now, instead of revising a faulty manuscript, I try and apply the changes early on, editing myself daily and looking for weaknesses in my characters before they become major plot holes. I’ve learned to outline—structuring the twists and turns of my novel long before I type the first word. Lastly, I’ve determined to be flexible, even if it means changing a major part of the story, based on the advice of critique partners. I’ll tell you more about that next week.

In the end, it’s still not easy, but whoever said writing was easy?


Ane Mulligan said...

Sigh ... I'm doing the same thing. Tomorrow, I teleconference with an editor at my agent's office. Why? To beef up my heroine.

Editing ... don't know wht I ever said I liked it! LOL

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