Every writer's greatest fear. Every poor novelist's downfall.
You've cranked out a massive manuscript. A whoppin' 100k beastie.
And it is. a. wreck.
WHAT TO DOOOO? WHERE TO GO??? GET THE COFFEE BREWING PLEASE AHHHHHH.
Editing is terrifying. It is a massive, carnivorous BEAST. If you're not careful, it will eat you alive.
But like, what even is editing? I have composed a definition for you.
Editing: a brutal process designed specifically to slaughter any writer whose bones are not constructed of titanium.
While that definition is certainly true, it doesn't help us much. Let's try this instead.
Editing: anything you do to your novel after completing its first draft.
There we go. I can work with this.
My definition of editing is anything you do to your novel, beneficial or not, after the first draft has been written. Editing is what you do after you've laid the ground work.
Which (since I like lists) leads me to my first woe of editing.
Woe 1: Editing does not always make your book better.
I know, I know. *lets the shudder ripple through readers* But it's true. I can 'edit' my book, completely changing chapter one, and it could be worse than the first try. That's just reality. It isn't fun. It isn't nice.
The goal, of course, is to improve. But sometimes, that just doesn't happen.
Now, before you storm off yelling nasty insults at me, let me make something else clear: you can always write another draft.
Sometimes, we have to wreck our books to make them better.
Anyone here know about Rubik's cubes? I learned how to solve one last year. My little brother taught me, step by step. You start with a mess of colors. Then you make the bottom layer the same color. And then the next layer. And you work your way up to the top. And then there comes a point where there are three little pieces out of place. You're three pieces away from a solved cube.
And to put those three little pieces where they need to go, you have to ruin the cube.
Seriously. There's an algorithm. If you stop in the middle of it and just look at your cube, it will appear to be a wreck. If I ever stop, I always get messed up.
So I don't think about it. I don't think about how, to everyone else, it looks like I'm ruining all my progress. I just do it.
And then -- what do you know? It's solved.
I'm not saying editing is going to be that easy, but you have to keep in mind that sometime you have to seemingly wreck things to make them better.
Woe 2: There are a gazillion ways to write a scene.
Like, seriously. Say your MC and his mom are fighting. This could happen in MC's bedroom, the kitchen, the car, the hallway. It could happen in the morning right before school. It could happen as soon as he gets home. It could happen on the way to school.
And then, what they're fighting about - they could fight about a gazillion things. I assume since it's in the story, there's a purpose for the fight, but there are so many ways to word the comebacks.
Point being, you could write a single scene a million times, each way completely different, yet supposedly the same.
HOW DO YOU CHOOSE?
Choosing is hard. What if the way you've done it isn't good enough? What if it would be better this way? What if ...?
My advice for this danger would be to wait for betas. If you have doubts about how the scene happened, give it to betas or your critique partner and have them look it over. Do they feel the same way? If so, talk it out.
Don't let yourself fall into woe 3.
Woe 3: The Sloth Complex
You are a human.
Not a sloth.
Don't let one scene that doesn't feel right turn you into one. Just let go and move on. Your writer buddies will help you. Staying with that scene is just going to make you a nervous wreck. It's not going to help. Plus, moving on will help more than staying put. It will give you fresh perspective on the scene. It will also allow you to finish the draft and then you know everything that happens and can fine tune it to be properly foreshadowed.
Just move on. Your critique partner and betas will help you.
Woe 4: "IT MUST BE PERFECT"
SHUT YO MOUTH WRITE NOW.
(hehe. you see what I did there? Yeah? aha. ha. ehem.)
I'm going to tell you guys something you probably won't like.
Your book will never be perfect.
You know why?
Because it is art. There is no perfect way. There just isn't. Since there is always another way you can write it, you have to remind yourself that you aren't writing it those ways. You're writing it this way. There are other ways that might be better, but no way is 'perfect' because there is no perfect way.
Are you with me on this?
It cannot be perfect. But it can be good. And it will be good. You just have to stick with it and keep trying. Don't give up.
Woe 5: "Must Start New Project Because This Isn't Good Enough" syndrome
I'm really feeling this right now.
Like, it would just be so eeeeeassssyyyyyy to start a new book. I love the thrill and freedom of first drafts. It's so glorious. But. There's something to remember: when you finish that first draft, it's going to need editing too.
And then you'll have TWO manuscripts to edit. So my advice would be to space it out. WAIT. Be patient. Let yourself write a new project, but wait at least until you've made it through the next draft of your story. Right now, I'm letting my next project The Dream Walkers stew in the back of my mind. When I finish draft 2, I'm going to let myself write it. Maybe draft 3 ... it depends on how thoroughly this draft kills me. We shall see.
Point being: it's really, really good motivation and bribery. So find something to bribe yourself with and push onward! You've got this!
You're not a sloth and you're not a machine. You're a lovely human with a gift and passion to write. Give yourself a pat on the back! Editing is hard.
There are so many other woes of editing that I could cover. But I think I've said enough for today. XP
*hugs all the stalker humans and hands out chocolate and coffee*
SO. Now it's your turn. What woes have you unearthed in the editing process? Do you struggle with any of these in particular, and do you have a certain way of dealing with it that I neglected to mention?