Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Editing

Here's one of the first things everyone should know about writing. Writing leads to editing, and for many editing is much harder. I don't just mean fixing all the spelling errors and getting rid of comma splices. What I mean by editing is that once that seven-hundred page novel is complete, one usually has to go back, re-read, and will eventually delete all the useless crap in there, turning the seven-hundred pages into five-hundred pages (if you're good enough to get that much useful writing down on your first draft).

However many pages you end up with, there is always editing involved and many, many drafts. One way I like to face the truly exhausting challenge of ripping my work to shreds is to leave it be for a couple of weeks. Getting your mind out of the story really helps you be less attached to those sentences that you dearly want to keep even though they do not help the story along. When I do sit down to edit a couple weeks later, I'll usually grab a glass a wine and get down to simply reading. After a couple of weeks, it's easier to see where the dialogue feels unnatural, where certain words don't fit in, and it's easier to "kill your babies" (you know, like those hobbit references that have no business in your mystery novel).

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