Something I’ve Realized About Editing

I’m not very good at editing. My former versions of editing were basically scrapping everything I’d done and starting from scratch. The first time I tried to do anything different was with the contest I entered on AuthorCulture. I wrote the story, and it was far too long. So, rather than starting from scratch, I tried to find ways to shorten and tighten it – in other words, I actually did some editing. And it paid off.

Since then, I’ve been trying to do the same thing with the short story that I’m working on. A good way for me to motivate myself is to check the present wordcount and then tell myself that I bet I can trip 25 words from it. I go back through it and cut irrelevant information, make sentences flow better…and cut those 25 words. It’s actually kind of fun, because I make it a challenge. It’s probably not the best way to edit, but I figure that baby steps are best. I’m better than halfway through the current draft of Burning Eden, and I figure that I probably want to have some basic editing tools in hand if I want to make the sucker properly publishable (which I do).

The real problem is, I’m arrogant. I don’t like to think that my work needs revision. It’s not Golden Word syndrome by any means, because I’m just as likely to decide something is utter, unfixable crap and banish it to the graveyard (yep, got a folder called that). The problem is, while I have a fairly good grasp of grammar and spelling and basic mechanics, no one’s perfect.  Okay, so I’m flawed. We knew this about me already, didn’t we?

What’s been really useful to me has been Absolute Write (and I really should get around to adding it to the sidebar, shouldn’t I?) and looking at critiques of writing, because it helps me to see what does and doesn’t work in real samples of writing. Just having information thrown at me, a set of rules, is likely to turn me off, but this doesn’t.

Anyway, I seem to have wandered off-topic. Shame I don’t have those magic editing skills under control yet.

But I’m getting there. And if I have to make it a competition with myself to see how many words I can cut out, it’s at least a place to start.

(P.S. Totally unrelated note: I’ve recently come into some Amazon money. Any books, dear lurkers, that you’ve read lately that you’d recommend?)



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3 responses to “Something I’ve Realized About Editing

  1. Jay Tee

    You might like the AutoCrit Editing Wizard. It puts fun into editing. Like you, I need that 🙂

  2. Franco

    First, lemme say that I tripped into your site through your “Human History” story and I thought it was really good. Congrats.

    And because I never pass up an opportunity to be opinionated, here’s two books I recently finished that I recommend. I don’t know what your tastes are, but if you write post-apocalyptic stuff, I assume you read it as well. They’re not new, but there’s always a chance they slipped under your radar.

    Psalms of Herod, by Esther Friesner– Duology with a ‘Handmaiden’s Tale’-esque flavor.

    Eternity Road, by Jack Mcdevitt– Louis and Clark in the future ruins of the Mississippi Valley.

    Hope it’s useful and keep it up.

  3. krugka

    I’m a fan of Brandon Sanderson’s stuff. I particularly liked Elantris and what I read of Mistborn was good (I didn’t finish it because I got distracted by something shiny – A Game of Thrones). Still, I really like fantasy, and Sanderson’s stuff was some of the more interesting fantasy that I’d read in a while.

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