Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Being an Author: Editing

So do you rip this puppy a new one, or what?


I'm only going to talk about the process of self-editing here. Editing others work is a whole different ball game. Maybe even one without balls.

So you look at it. It doesn't matter how long or short it is. It is finished. The first thing that I ask myself is have I got time to wait? You see, editing something that you've just written can make life unnecessarily hard for yourself. Familiarity breeds contempt. Go on. Edit it now, and then leave it a month. Do it again. Still happy with it? Thought not.

If you have time, wait.

Then you have to decide how much you want to edit. This is the tricky part. Not because ripping the filth that you can't believe that you wrote in the place out is tricky. No. That's easy. That's easy like throwing out the end of a shank because it was tough and you don't want it anymore. The hard part is throwing it out knowing that you cooked it in the first place.

Then you have to decide what to replace it with. Much the same? Chops?

I'm going to stop you there. My whole metaphor seems to have turned this into a cookery blog.

It's hard throwing out the rubbish. But if you - yes, you in the front, stop lollygagging! - can see that it is wrong, it needs to go. If you can see that is doesn't read right you have to change it. If you can see it, they can see it. It's hard. It needs doing.

Don't try to learn from it. Don't try to avoid things that you might not like when you're writing the next masterpiece. You never know when a short, sharp mistake might transpire into utter brilliance.

So then, when it's been ripped out, do you replace it? Was it just filler? Did you write it to get word count? That was silly wasn't it? Lol. Yes. Now you will have to replace - to get word count back - and it needs to be better. Not filler. Does that mean that you need to pull another 5K out of your...


And when you've finished, then what?

Go back. Yes. Up there. Line 9.

If you have time, wait.

Rinse and repeat.

'Til next time.

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