Cut, cut, cut, oh I like that bit! Ok, cut, cut, cut – the editing process

Don’t you love the editing process? All those plot holes that spring to light, snapping at your throat, the three different ways you spelt ‘their’, the endless discovery of typos, multiplying like flys on… Oh, you don’t like the editing process? There’s a surprise.

I know exactly how I feel about the editing process. Right now, at the beginning, it’s not too bad. I’ve gone through the whole manuscript (a pile of 250 A4 pages weighs a lot, in case you didn’t already know) and made notes on what needs to be sorted out. There are a couple of things which aren’t mentioned on there because they’re not yet there to be mentioned, but they will go on the list I intend to write today. The list of all the notes (including page numbers) that I made over the weekend. And the extra bits which aren’t there yet.

This stage isn’t too bad. This is the planning stage. Like the planning stage before actually writing a book it is the easy part. You write down all the things you want to do. If you’re really organised you even put them in chronological order. You end up with a nice long list of things to do. Awesome.

The problem is, I’m hopeless with ‘things to do’ lists. I can make them, that isn’t the issue. The issue is in dealing with everything on the list. As fast as one thing gets ticked off, something springs up to take its place. Hopefully this is one area where writing will trump real life. There comes a point with a book where you can no longer do anything to it of practical use, which is when you know it is ready, whether you like it or not, to head out into the real world.

I wouldn’t know. I’ve never got to that point. My last book got sent out because otherwise I was going to miss the deadline. Not because I could no longer make it better. I’m actually scared to look at it. One day I will, possibly accompanied by a large bag of biscuits and a cattle prod, just to cover both ends of the stick and carrot analogy.

So here I am, about to embark on the journey of discovery that is editing my book. Already it doesn’t seem that good. Just a bunch of words strung together to create a story. All I can say for sure is that I definitely made my heroine suffer and while she is, in actual fact, badass, she definitely doesn’t know it. I have heard these are good things. Thankfully my critique partner is incredibly excited by my story, which gives me hope to continue. Personally I just want to make it as good as it can be. The interesting part is seeing how much better it will be than it is now.

How do you feel about the editing process? Are there bits you don’t get so worried about, like the resolution of plot inconsistencies as opposed to the seemingly never-ending search for typos? Does the whole thing fill you with dread, or joy? I want to know. Maybe I can learn something.

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About Mhairi Simpson

Writer, dreamer. Magic, dragons, pink mice, cake. Come say hi!
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14 Responses to Cut, cut, cut, oh I like that bit! Ok, cut, cut, cut – the editing process

  1. Trisha says:

    I’m on my errr, third or so revision right now, of one of my novels. It’s torturous at times, and exhilarating/exciting at others. I’m loving seeing my word count drop (it was way too large to begin with). I’m also adding new scenes/rewriting old ones.

    But my eyeballs are tired, oh they’re SO tired.

    • ๐Ÿ˜€ I actually have the opposite problem – because I tend to see the story unfold like a movie in my mind, I usually go low on description so my word count is lower than it should be. I also tend to get to the point, around the 50k mark, when I run out of previously thought-up plot points and have to start throwing in random events, which don’t then always tie in with what I had already written. I will probably end up adding between 10k and 20k before I finally type THE END. I’m saving that for when it’s actually finished. Or when I’ve got it as close as possible… ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. Regina says:

    I don’t mind editing so much. It just depends on how many times I edit before I pull my hair out! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Yeah, I went through my last book about five times before I was literally sick of it. Nauseous at the thought of having to read it again. At least this time I have a CP I can send it to when I can no longer tell the wood from the trees.

  3. I really enjoy the actual process of editing but don’t look forward to the self doubt when I read over what I’ve written and wonder how I came up with that drivel. I also easily get to a point where I’m too close to it to see the faults anymore. Enter the crit partners (literally, life savers). They help me get a bit of perspective and point out problems I may have missed.

  4. Editing gets exhausting when I’m on my sixth or tenth or fifteenth time through the book. O_O I’ve discovered that the editing doesn’t really stop until the book is in print and I can’t do anything else to it. I usually edit it several times, then give it to my husband (who rips it to pieces so I can put it back together) and my beta readers (who point out other things/plot holes/tell me they think something sucks or works/etc.). But even then, when I set aside a book for a few months and then go back to it, there are inevitably things I’ve missed or could make just a little bit better. I’ve had lots of editing stages–the “I hate this book so much (even though I don’t) and I want to throw it against the wall because I’m so sick of it!” stage. This is very similar to the “I just edited it six times; if I have to look at it again, I’m going to cry!” stage. Those two just require some time and space before coming back to it. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Then there are stages like “Wow, this isn’t as bad as I thought it was” or “I’ve read this eight times and I am not tired of it; how did that happen?”

    Editing is, I think, sometimes as exhausting and hard as writing the story in the first place. Good luck with all of your editing!

    • Thank you! ๐Ÿ˜€ It’s very hard to know at what point you should just stop, isn’t it? I have no idea how you decide that. Probably when my critique partner says “Stop it! Submit it already!”

  5. Sonia M. says:

    I’m about to start editing my MIP too. *ahem* nevermind that I also have to finish the ending. I’m finishing the read through right now so I can give the first 10 pages to my critique group…though I may need more victems…readers…I meant readers. ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Don’t worry – I don’t consider mine finished until the editing is done, so you’ve got time to do the ending ๐Ÿ˜€ If you’re lacking in inspiration, by the time you’ve edited the rest a time or two something will probably come to you ๐Ÿ˜€ Oh, and I just DM’d you regarding victims readers…

  6. I’m only my final pass on my latest manuscript. I’ve given up on catching all the typos. I’ve read the words so many times they blur together. I like your approach to editing. “Iโ€™ve gone through the whole manuscript (a pile of 250 A4 pages weighs a lot, in case you didnโ€™t already know) and made notes on what needs to be sorted out. ” I’ve never thought of such an organized approach. I just dive in. I will try this the next time I start editing a new piece.

    • I have to admit, the vaunted list got boring around the p.108 mark, so now I’m just editing the typos/grammar stuff directly onto the document on my laptop. Stuff that needs to be added in/reworded I will probably write out longhand, so that I have the freedom of a blank page to put what I really want to say, rather than being distracted by what I already said.

  7. Ryan says:

    I love the editing process, but i thinks because i am much better at editting than coming up with something creative on my own.

    I think it stems from my training as an engineer, im very good analysing and working out solutions to problems. Its still a creative process, but just a little different to the process of coming up with the problem/idea in the first place

    • Hahahahaha I have the opposite problem. I’m very good at coming up with creative nonsense – getting it to make sense is my downfall. I haven’t actually done too badly on this MS. Thankfully. If I had I think I would probably have given up and gone on to another book. Or, if I still felt passionate about the story, started all over again from scratch…

      That said, I do like the challenge of problem-solving, so I’m hoping to do a reasonable job of getting the MS to make sense before I pass it over to my CP for shredding ๐Ÿ˜€

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