Ah, editing. Now here we have a topic well worth talking about.
As I see it, there are three different kinds of editing.
1)The ones suggested by professional editors, usually at the behest of your agent or publisher. Okay, since I have no agent or publisher, I have no idea what these are like so I will leave them untouched.
2) The edits done from critiques of your work. When you send out chapters or an entire piece of work to a fellow writer or someone else you feel competent to give you a review, they usually don’t tell you that the MS is perfect. And if they do, you need to remove them from your crit circle.
I actually really enjoy most of these. I see what the reader sees instead of the way I see my work. It helps clarify things for me. It also helps me get a better grip on my tone and voice, not to mention my grammar (Thanks Grammar-Nazi, you know who you are). One of the best critiques I have ever gotten came from my friend named Dean. His blog will be in my list as soon as he feels it is ready. He gave me a simple piece of advice. Too simple, really. He told me to begin at the beginning of the story. It was like a thunderbolt hit. I ended up cutting the beginning of my first chapter completely. By starting where the action starts I was able to get the reader more involved, more quickly. (Thanks Dean, you are awesome!)
I have taken his advice to heart. I am currently working on my CIP (Cheat in Progress) instead of working on INFECTED. I wrote about 4500 words, that’s about 2 chapters for my books. I was working on the second chapter and realized that the action really started there. The first chapter was basically referring to the things that happened in INFECTED and the reaction of my protagonist at giving birth to a green-eyed, hyper intelligent son. The second chapter actually took place 2 years later, when the baby is now a toddler. Bolt of lightning again. The first chapter was not needed. I could put all the important stuff in the dialog of the second chapter without it feeling like an information dump! Even though I cut more than half of my writing, I now had a much stronger beginning.
Not all crits you get will have good advice on what you should edit. You have to pick and choose, though I do suggest going along with the majority. If one person like it and another doesn’t, don’t change it until you get a third opinion.
I actually do enjoy these edits, as long as I understand why the cuts/changes/etc. are needed. Once I do, I have no problem with following through on what needs to be done.
Now comes the dreaded (for me) edit type #3
3) These are the edits you do on your work, by yourself. You are checking for anything that could possibly be wrong with your manuscript, from voice, to tone, to change in verb tenses. Everything is fair game, including your main character’s name.
This is where I fall flat on my face.
I have the hardest time looking at my work objectively enough to see what needs to be done. I struggle and struggle with this, until I want to throw my hands (and my manuscript) up in the air and pull my hair out.
Is it all bad? No. I have learned a few things recently. It is okay to take a break and work on something else for a while. When you come back to your original WIP you will find it much easier to be objective than when you were slaving over it day after day. This is just the time to let the MS sit for a while. When you get overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of the task before you, you need to take a break.
This is where I am now, and I am content. My stress level is down and I feel like I am already close to being up to take on the edits from INFECTED once again. I will need at least another week, and will probably be going back and forth from INFECTED to THE GREEN ONES several times before the first is completely edited to my standards.
So, what does all this mean? Well to me, it means, keep on working. Take a break from your WIP when you need it, but keep on writing, and for goodness sake, keep on learning! Be open to critiques and make your edits accordingly.It will make your writing much stronger in the end.