Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Truths of Editing

I have been delving into that thing called editing again. Every time I think I've accomplished the feat of finally FINISHING my book, I realize I haven't. That's always depressing. And then I run out of time to actually look at my book because life gets in the way. Ah, if only I could JUST be a writer for once in my life and nothing else!

Well, sadly, that won't happen for a while, so until then...I'll just push time and life aside at points to edit my books...and drink lots of coffee...hence the picture. (Speaking of that picture--it's called 'Coffee Art' isn't that cool!?)

Now, I am going to list what I've found to be true of my editing process.

1. It really is never over.

I know. I still can't come to terms with this one. At points I really believed there would be no retouching of the book, but it's obsessive and I can't stop myself. It's like...a really shiny object. You just have to mess with it.

2. You can over-edit.

Yep...I've done this...I've over-edited relationships, over-simplified scenes. The hard part is realizing you've done this, especially if your word count (as you might recall mine was) wayyyy too high! Of course, this is a simple fix...you just write more in the places where you deleted it, BUT don't forget to reread what you just wrote...chances are you left out a word. ;)

3. Grammar really isn't everything.

For me, anyways and I'll tell you why--I am an English Major and a writer, so everyone expects greatness when I write a novel. But I'm not amazing at editing and I know that. I really am not a great speller. I'm not always sure why I put commas in random places (really, I don't know), sometimes I really hope I can use a semi-colon there and a colon here. In other words, I'm not great with the rules of grammar. For me what matters is the plot, the development of the characters...is your story really there? If it isn't...well, you have a different problem. Now, I'm not saying ignore it! Please don't ignore it, but don't let it get you down--if all else fails, ask someone else to check your grammar, especially if you (like me) aren't great at rules. lol.

4. If you feel like something isn't working then it isn't.
I felt this way about my first 5 chapters for a long time, but I had a problem: I just didn't know how to fix it! So, instead...I just waited this out and figured sooner or later, I'd come up with something I felt great about and it happened. Which leads me too....

5. Editing takes time.

I complained once that I had sat before my computer for TWO HOURS and had only edited about 2 pages or so...but editing takes time. It isn't going to be finished overnight (no matter how much we wish). Thing about it is, to be good editors, we have to take breaks. If we stare at manuscript forever...well, we're going to stop seeing the mistakes. And if it takes us a few hours to get through a couple of pages, well, I bet those are some pretty polished pages. Wow...all that alliteration!

So....I have learned these things. I don't think I'll ever be a GOOD editor. I'm very impatient...and I tend to forget things take times. Also, I'm editing a novel I wrote in the ninth grade (High School). It has changed so much. A part of me wants to open a new document completely and just redo everything, but then...I love what I have too much, and I don't think it's in need of a rewrite that huge. It's not really in need of a rewrite, but definitely tweaking. lol.

Happy Writing/Editing!


  1. Great points! Number 4 is so true for me. Sometimes my gut screams at me that something is not working. I've learned to listen. Revising and editing is tough and time consuming, but I think it is my favorite part of the process. Good luck as you keep editing.

  2. @ Cherie - Thank you! :D

    @ Cynthia - I did this for SO long!! I just didn't know how to fix the problem yet! I wish it was my favorite part of the process! :/ Alas, it is not...hehe

  3. Those are some good lessons. The biggest one I learnt is this: No matter what my readers think, as long as I know I wrote something right, it's right.


  4. The impatience is something I struggle with too. That's probably why I agonize over the first draft as much as I do; I'm trying to minimize the amount of time I'll have to spend on revision. Either way, it's a slow process.

    Thanks for sharing what you've learned, and good luck!

  5. I struggle with the time thing as well and the over editing. I've kinda decided that with the novel I'm working on now. I'm only getting five critiques. then I'm going to take each recommendation and keep or throw depending on what I think is best for my story. Because if I'm writing it for everyone else it isn't going to work!

  6. @ Misha and J.A. - I love that you both mentioned writing for yourself!! I haven't done critiques before, so I'm not sure what it's like to have people pull you in their direction, but defiantly, GREAT advise!

    @Krispy - Yay!! We're both impatient. lol. idk if that's actually good, but interestingly, unlike you, I don't care about how I write the first draft cause I'm thinking so fast, I can't stop and spend time on anything. I actually wish I could do what you do though...cause that would cut my editing time down. :/

  7. ASHLEY! Um, I just spotlighted you on my blog for the Pay if Forward Blogfest ;D

  8. Ashley, I love your blog. You are absolutely right about the horrors of editing. It really never is finished. We can always find something to change, add, alter or delete. The key is being able to know when to say ENOUGH is enough.

    It is funny (not the humorous ha ha funny) how I thought the hard part was over once I finally finished my manuscript. If I only knew, some of the hardest & most time consuming work was just beginning.

    Thank you for visiting my blog. It is very nice to meet you.

  9. Hi! Just popped across from Barbara Kloss' blog and am now your newest follower! Great blog! Linda

  10. Aw, you will get better w/each book, I promise! You'll be surprised. Plus, that's what REAL editors and beta readers/critters are for. To help you w/your weak spots. And might I add how impressed I am that you wrote a novel in ninth grade?? just, wow!

  11. @ Barbara - Thank you!!!! :D

    @ Melissa - Thank you so much! I know! Ugh, I just want to say for certainty that my book is actually finished, but I KNOW something won't be right at some point! Even when I thought it was perfect before!

    @ Linda - HI!!! Thank you!!

    @ Anita - hahaha...*blushes* I just loved to write. And I'm still doing it, lol. I think I had more ambitious thoughts back then, however.

  12. Barbara suggested I stop in. Following you now.

    I so know about overediting. It's possible to lose the character of our work if we keep nipping and tucking.

  13. Good luck! Editing can be rough but it seems like you've got your head on pretty well for this.

  14. Awesome post, Ashley. It's exactly what I go through. Glad to know I'm not alone.

    I don't mind the edits too much, because it's so hard to let go of something once I'm done with it. Editing let's me hang on a little longer ;)