Editing (Bring your coffee and tons of motivation)

7:33 PM

It's no secret that writing is hard. Damn hard. And editing is even harder. 

While I continue making edits for TO SAVE MY LIFE, I'm trying really really hard not to *facedesk* every couple of minutes. One minute, I nearly sqee at how brilliant I am. Then, I'm cringing at my words. "What the hell does that even mean? People don't say those things. God, I'm a joke. No one will ever read this. Hell, I don't want to freaking read it anymore."

And so it goes...

Those love/hate days will never go away--I know that. So I take the self-deprecating comments and toss them aside. We've all dated that one person who might've been great, had he just stopped saying "I'm a loser. No one likes that I do X,Y,Z. It's only a matter of time before you stop talking to me cause that's what everyone does....etc. etc. etc."

Quit it already.

Where am I going with this? Oh, right. I'll edit, edit, edit until nothing in my MS makes me cringe. Will everyone like it? No, of course not. But I will. I'll know how awesome it is and this will allow me to join the query trenches knowing good and well that someone, someday, will tell me they want to give it a home. (After all, no one stays single forever. No matter what, everyone out there is loved by someone.)

So now I'll share with you some of the things I've tacked onto my "Edit To-Do List".

1) Search and delete all necessary uses of THAT.
My English 101 teacher told me "'That' is usually unnecessary. Read the sentence without it. Does it still make sense? Then you don't need it." Of course she wasn't the first one to come up with that idea and it's a well known rule for us writers. But it's true. Get THAT out of your MS!

2) Passive voice - Lose that crap too
To be honest, I'm pretty horrible at it. One of my CPs always seems to catch it for me and I'm so thankful for that. Most of the time, passive voice can be avoided. It's always better when "Sam sat on the couch" rather than "Sam was sitting on the couch".

3) Cut the adverbs
We writers know that adverbs often mean death to our MS. Characters can't speak angrily or shout fiercely. Well, they can but there's always a better way to show that. Which leads me to....

4) Show, don't tell
This is probably one of the most overused phrases when it comes to writing. I'm guilty of telling sometimes and I'm working on nipping that crap in the bud. I think I'll have to dedicate an entire edit to just this. *Facedesk* Bring on the coffee.

5) Read your MS out loud. 
I've heard this plenty of times before but I never actually did it until recently. Yes, you'll feel weird doing it, so I'd recommend being alone. But it helps in finding sentences that sound weird. I personally like to read it as if I were creating an audio book. (Because, one can only hope that someday, someone WILL be doing that) It also makes it more fun--yay for fun. If you read it out loud, you can find things that simply reading it won't. Maybe two words need to be switched or maybe you can drop a word within a sentence. Or maybe you didn't realize how often you used Tom's name within a single scene. We don't want to hear Tom's name ten times. We remember it's Tom and sooner or later, we'll never want to hear Tom's name ever again.   :)

6) Make sure the 1st chapter is awesome. Make sure the last chapter is just as awesome.
Of course, the ones in between need to be awesome too. But your reader will remember the first and last chapters above all. The first is what made him/her continue reading. The last is the reason he/she will buy your next book.
The irony of all of this is: the first few paragraphs are so freaking hard to get right and the ending is even harder. *Sigh* *Facedesk*

7) Cut unnecessary scenes
Sometimes, doing this hurts. Some scenes radiate awesomeness. But what does that scene accomplish? What if you cut it? -- Would your reader be missing out on something important? If all that makes the scene is witty dialogue or fantastic descriptions, it's not needed. Cut the awesomeness, even when it hurts.

I could probably go on for days but 1) I'd lose my mind and 2) Your eyes would probably start to glaze over. So...
Anyone else have any awesome editing tips? Maybe ones that aren't so obvious?

Also, I'm curious to know if anyone has ever paid for a critique/beta read. Outside of paying someone to catch grammar mistakes, was it worth the money for someone to tell you their subjective thoughts?

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