I love editing my work. I also love getting the first draft down and letting the story unfold. I love getting to know my characters better and really understanding where they’ve come from and why they are who they are and why they act the way they do. But editing is where the story and the characters begin to shine.
And it’s a good thing I like editing because recently I discovered I was going about it the wrong way or at least the wrong way for me. As a result, I have spent way too much time working on Blood Judgment, my urban fantasy romance.
I would edit a little as I went. I just couldn’t stop myself from going back and reading over some of the previous writing and working it a little before delving into the writing session. So what, you say, lots of writers do that and do it well. True. But I bet those writers had it together at the beginning and had a better outline for their project. I outline as much as I can and then pantster it where I need to. It’s the pantstering that causes me problems. Of course, I also come up with some darn good ideas as I go along, too, so pantsing has its rewards.
Once I arrived at The End, I began editing in earnest making pass after pass until I thought, hey that’s pretty good. Then a bad thing would happen. I would make a change to a subplot or the main plotline and because of that change I would have to make changes in other parts of the ms. Parts that I had already edited to perfection, or at least what I thought was perfection when I moved on to the next section.
The problem is pretty obvious. It’s the going back and having to change what had already been edited.
Then I ran across a book called The Weekend Novelist Rewrites the Novel: A Step-by-Step Guide to Perfecting Your Work by Robert J. Ray. This book pointed out the error of my ways and put me on the path of good editing. Robert J. Ray explains how to handle editing subplots and the main plot to prevent the very problem I was having. Then once those edits have been made, and only then, do you polish the sentences. Talk about editing empowerment. This book is on my keeper shelf. I don’t agree with every little recommendation in the book, but overall, I really like it and find it useful.
How about you? What are your favorite craft books? What did you take from them that made your job as a writer better or easier?