Edits. I hates them. But not why you think.
Yes, they take for… ever. Hours scribbling on paper, crossing out words, adding others, checking references. My back burns, my eyes ache and that niggly tickling pain creeps down my leg. (Sciatica sucks.)
I’ve lost count of how many times I sift through my thesaurus looking for that one word – the perfect one – to describe a character’s mood, to show how they feel; stomping down the hallway conjures up a completely different image to inching down the hallway. (In this case: her footsteps padded on the carpet runner…)
But rewrites and edits are one of the most important steps in writing. They can take longer the first draft (depending on the quality of the first draft). Some of my stories have three rewrites; others – such has Tomorrow, When I Die – take up to eight or nine rewrites. It depends on how well the story was planned out, how much research was done (or needed doing), whether the story had taken a left turn and wandered off into uncharted territory or, in my case, how ill I was when scratching out the first draft.
There is nothing more annoying – or disappointing – as reading a story with dangling plot lines, sloppy writing or bad grammar. I’ve seen whole sentences repeated on occasion. I just don’t understand how such stories get published – even by the big publishers. It seems to be an acceptable way of cost-cutting for some. <Insert heavy sigh and enormous sad face here.>
But what’s the real reason I hate editing?
When I’ve read through a story for the umpteenth time, the fun and games seem to lose their gloss. It would be different if I could just enjoy the adventure – but no – I have to examine, judge, decide. I have to keep count of how many times a character has ‘raised an eyebrow’, whether they are sitting down or standing up and ask myself: ‘can she really see that if she’s hiding under the desk?’
It gets to a point where the manuscript gets slapped on the table and the house shudders with: “I can’t take this any more!”
And that’s when I know. It is done. It is time for my editor to check for commas and spelling mistakes. I press send and await her report.
I pour myself a cup of tea, nibble on a piece of chocolate and catch up on that series I missed… but not for long.
There’s still one more story to finish. A new story. One last adventure for Viola and her friends. I’ll miss them. They’ve taught me a lot. (The good news is the editing funk is not permanent; when I go back and read the stories next year, it will be all new again.)
Now, where are my notebooks for The Illusioneer?