Lately, I’ve been editing a lot. Between working on my own projects and beta reading for others, I’ve been having to look at writing with a critical eye regularly. The more that I look at writing i this way, the more that I’m flexing my skill at spotting how to make a novel better. However, through all of this I’ve come to realize find a way to best utilize and efficiently write a story.
For me, when I write, I tend to write longer than necessary. My first passthrough is almost always cutting back anything that is unnecessary. The second draft I add in all the details that are necessary for the story to make sense. Then in the third, I often find myself cutting back for pacing and adjusting for character development. Now, don’t get me wrong, I do a little bit of all those things in each draft. It is the pacing that I’m really working on.
For almost two years, I’ve been working on and off on a high fantasy story for nearly 2 years. I’ve yet to give up on it because whenever I pick it up, even just to read it I’m instantly enveloped. Yet, when I send it out to betas there are problems. While I’m wonderfully happy that people aren’t reading this story and finding that it is a grammar disaster. The amount of times people point out a phrase is awkward isn’t that high and is actually pretty darn reasonable. Heck, even the plot doesn’t seem to be a problem. My problem is that either people feel the pacing is slow or the characters aren’t as engaging as they could be.
Identifying my problems for another round of edits are infinitely important. It gives me focus and helps me determine what I need to work on. If someone previously hadn’t told me that the opening felt like it was taking a while to get to the big important moment, I wouldn’t have gone through trimming down the events so that they played out more swiftly. However, I seem to often run the problem that when I fix one problem I cause another for myself. Now the pacing is ace and people enjoy how it’s unfolding, but the connection people formerly felt for my characters has disappeared. Essentially I butchered an aspect of my story that was working in favor of another that wasn’t. Now I’m working on balance.
The more I work on editing the more that I realize that there is no exact science to it all. What works for some people doesn’t work for others. What some people find amusing others find dull. Increasingly I’ve been resigning myself to the fact that as along as I like my story, and I can understand why someone may not like a certain aspect, I can leave my story alone with minimal tweaks. However, if everyone is saying that something is wrong I need to address it.
Now, I just need to find a way to make people enjoy my mc rather than thinking her dull, even though most can’t point to any real reason.