Category: Editing

Secondary Characters

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve read a story and hated everyone except the side kick. While the heroine makes predictable (and often very, very stupid) decisions that show how brave and self-sacrificing she is, her snarky side kick offers much better advice and far more entertaining dialogue as he or she usually accompanies our lackluster heroine into danger. The worst is when the author kills off this magnificent character because of all a sudden, I really don’t care about the story anymore.

Then again, I’ve run into the opposite problem as well. The main character is hilarious and interesting, finding ways to outsmart his enemies and meet his love interest in creative ways. His sidekick plods along behind him, offering necessary plot lines that move the story forward or, worse, info dumps like it’s going out of style.

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Multiple Drafts

The thing about writing is that everyone does it differently. There’s a lot of advice out there about how to write and even what to write. When I was younger, I struggled sometimes with what to write. Not because I didn’t have ideas – I had plenty of those – but I lacked the confidence to think that my ideas were good enough to become stories. I was too lazy to see where they could go, to piece together the puzzle that would have created good stories.

Now that I’ve learned to trust myself and I’ve begun to follow my stories, even if I crash into tangles along the way, I’ve discovered something recently about what happens when I refuse to leave a story alone. Part of it has to do with going through multiple drafts of a story, hence why this blog is about drafts. Editing is just as important as getting the first draft done because you can go back and fix the problems you had in the bumpy ride to writing. So here’s what I see in my own writing.

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Different Forms of Editing

So often, we become fixated on getting the first draft done that we have no idea where to go from there. The first draft, in my opinion, should be written in a frenzy of creativity, a flush of crazy energy and the Muse working through you at warp speed to produce something that is raw, powerful, and malleable. Is this how I actually produce first drafts? Sadly, no. I tend to work in bursts – I get inspired for a week and write 15,000 words in just a couple days, then it sits there by itself until I figure out what to do next. I wish I could do the all-in-one-intensive-go thing (I would probably get a lot more projects done if I could) because my favorite part – the part that really makes the book – is right after: the editing and revision process.

Night_Mare is posting her response here if you’re interested to see her take on it (since she’s on her second draft right now and I am still plodding along on my first).

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Innocence vs. Experience

I must confess: I have a BA in English Literature. Hence why I make a lot of references to classical works, some I loved, some I couldn’t stand. Therefore, be warned!

I’ve always been a fan of William Blake (his Songs of Innocence and Songs of Innocence and Experience were truly brilliant, go check out copies of his prints since he didn’t intend for his poetry to be read without them). Anyway, this got me thinking about writing and editing, specifically the difference between a beginning writer with raw talent vs. a well-seasoned veteran, professional writer. This is not to say that the veteran doesn’t have talent either, just making the difference between a beginner and an expert in this case.

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There is something to be said about editing your novel. I’ll focus on fiction since that’s where I am most comfortable. My writing buddy Night-mare and I are struggling through her revisions. She got stuck at a difficult scene and recently managed to break through, creating an enormously more powerful scene. Now we’re onto another turning point in the story and she’s fighting it again. I feel a little helpless sometimes, since I’m not the one struggling through the scenes, but I remember very clearly when I went through something like twenty-three drafts for Skull Juggler: Disenchanted before I finally gave it up for self publication.

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Some Links to Editing Blogs

There are a lot of blogs out there about writing – the business of writing, the craft of writing, even writing about writing. I haven’t seen too many blogs about copyediting though, which surprises me a little. I did find this awesome one called the Copy Editing Corner but it doesn’t seem to get too much traffic. There also this really awesome site I just found called Copyediting: Because Language Matters that I’m going to devour after I write this. Sadly, in my short research for this blog, I didn’t find any other blogs about editing! But why not? Editing is such an integral part of writing. Some writing blogs certainly talk about the editing process but not to my satisfaction.

I started out editing (badly, very very badly) before I started writing anything. I liked the idea of catching mistakes other (better) writers had left behind and making the work easier to read. I got better with age and practice until I was editing people’s English papers. Funny thing is, they kept getting As every time I did. Then teachers started noticing and sending me kids they thought needed the extra help. I was more than happy to help them out since some of them were my friends and others were nice enough to me outside of class. I eventually started doing it in college and even in graduate school for my Certificate in Editing and Publishing.

At this point, I think I’m a fairly good editor. I have my reference guides now (so I don’t just rely on my memory of grammar, as I did when I was eleven, stupid, and just starting out) and I take the time to reread any mistakes I think I see. I feel as if this is perhaps the most important thing about writing.

So I think I’ll make this blog a combination of writing, editing, and reading. I’ve got my book reviews to do (I’ve already read 12 books since my last review! How insane is that?) and I’ve got some material I want to go over for a later blog.

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