I’ve finished my YA contemporary. After a couple days of decompression, I’m now jumping back into editing my novels. While I’m not pushing myself to edit the YA contemp, that doesn’t mean I don’t have other novels that I want to work on. However, that transition from writing to editing is always difficult for me.
When I am writing a novel, I am breezing through the story. I sit down every morning and pound out a lot of words, most of which are cohesive and not complete crap. It’s easy for me. Telling the story as I see it in my mind is a lot like typing out the events in a movie. In fact, it’s easier, because I get to throw down on the emotions that underlie actions. The act of writing is thrilling for me.
The act of editing is draining to me. It takes a lot out of me. It makes sense because it is the process of refinement. it’s taking something that is raw and unkempt and making it something presentable. It makes it something that is readable and makes sense. It transforms raw words into a story. And with successful knack, It can become more than just a story, it can bring characters to life that people can and will connect to for years to come. This is all because editing is where everything comes together.
I use a trick when it comes to editing. Some people like to print out their pages and write on them directly. Some people edit entirely on their computer. I work a very different hybrid. What I’ve come to realize works best for me is a two pass approach. This will get my story as tight as it needs to be. In Pass 1, I edit on the screen. The screen is not always your friend. However, I find that I often need to make a lot of little changes and adjustments to sentence structure before I can focus on making it sparkle. In this pass I am looking at grammar. I’m looking at the story as a whole. Are there big things I need to adjust. Are there things I see right then that need to be fixed. Once that is done, I have a flawed story, but a story none the less. Things are tighter and better, but really it was cleaning up the raw story so I could finally go in to make the cuts on the diamond beautiful.
Pass 2 involves me exporting the whole story to my ipad. There I read it as if it’s an ebook. However, I read it in an editing program that lets me write on the page as if I had printed it out. The difference is that it looks like an ebook. By tricking myself in that way, I am able to focus on the story and how it reads on the page. I can look at the pacing and how long something plays out. All of this allows me to make big picture changes as well as noting when little things like a sentence or wording choice can be improved. This tricking of my mind makes for the most dramatic changes in the story to improve it.
Some people might be wondering why I don’t just print it out then. There are three reasons for that. 1. I don’t have a printer that can handle that sort of job and even if I did the idea of wasting that much paper makes me cringe. If I do my job right, all of it will end up in the recycle eventually anyway. 2. Once it’s printed it’s heavy and cumbersome. The idea of editing wherever I have the opportunity is nixed. I’m not carrying around stacks of paper, meaning I can only edit at home. 3. Honestly, it brings back bad memories of having piles of research to come through. I’d much rather use my ipad and pretend it’s an ebook, than have papers surrounding me reminding me of the horrors of college.
None of that matters if I never start to edit. I have to push myself to get in the right mindset. Often that means I need to get myself excited. I need to hype up the idea of the story in my head until I don’t want anything else. That can take a few days. I will always take those days because I’ve learned from experience that forcefully jumping in usually results in bad work.
How do you get in the mood to edit?