August 25 – Working the Story

Revisions, revisions, revisions….

Editing is tough. Taking your first draft and covering it in enough red ink to make it look like a low-budget horror movie isn’t for the faint of heart. You have to look at the story in many different ways.

What are the strengths of the plot? Are there any weak points that need to be strengthened? Are there any pieces that don’t need to be there at all?

Does the character development flow throughout the piece? What do they learn at the end?

Is there enough tension throughout the story? Are there any parts that are too slow or feel boring?

What about the little things? How is the spelling? Are there any words missing? Are there any words repeated close together? How about punctuation and grammar?

These (and more) are all things that need to be reviewed when you are editing. I meet with a critique group every week. We read our stories out loud while the others read along. When we finish, they give feedback, which the author can use to answer some of those questions.

This week I read my “final” version of my story to the group. They all agreed that it was much better than the previous versions, but that didn’t mean they didn’t have suggestions. I still came away with comments on every page of the manuscript. So now I can take those ideas and work the story one last time before I submit it.

And yes, I do mean ONE last time. Editing always has a point of diminishing returns. Most authors probably think that even published works could use another pass or two of editing. I have heard comments from several famous writers that they wish they could tweak their story just a little bit more.

But sometimes you just have to say “enough is enough”. Sometimes that is when you hit your deadline. Sometimes it is when you just can’t stand to look at the story anymore. My published story, “Losing Control”, was submitted on the day of the deadline. This story, “The Hunt”, still has a month to go before the deadline, but I am getting tired of looking at it. So I am giving myself one last chance to make it better before sending it off into the world. And if it comes back to me with a rejection slip I will think about tweaking it again before sending it somewhere else.

Some authors like the editing process. Some hate it. As for myself, I think I’m kind of in the middle. I like the way the story grows stronger as I edit, but it is a lot of hard work that I wish I didn’t have to do. And I’m not a good enough writer to be able to make the first draft worthy of being the final draft. Yet.

So good luck with your editing! I’m going to try to finish mine this weekend, and then I have to figure out what my next project will be. I’m thinking that I should either start editing my Dragons At Dawn book again, or start figuring out what I am going to be writing for this year’s NaNoWriMo. Let me know if you are going to be participating in NaNoWriMo this year and I’ll be your writing buddy. We can give each other encouragement while we pound away at the keyboard and overdose on coffee shops and late night word sprints.

See you Monday!

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Filed under NaNoWriMo, Submissions, The Writing Experience

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