Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Editing is a Form of Torture
I love to write. Escaping into my character’s heads and living vicariously through their crazy adventures is fun, cathartic and sure beats the heck out of my day job. I whipped out an 89,000 word novel and had so much fun writing it, I quickly moved on to the next book in the series. Then people started asking me when I was going to send my book out and try to get it published. “I have to edit it first,” became my static response. Three months of saying this made me face the inevitable; I needed to edit the manuscript. So I shelled out $22.50 to print it out in its entirety, sat down in a quiet room and began a hard edit.
Twenty minutes later I started to panic. I don’t have OCD, but I can get obsessive (which explains the 300 posters of Skid Row and Sebastian Bach that covered my bedroom walls as a teenager). I started to analyze every sentence, every punctuation mark. I noticed that I liked to use the same words…a lot. I became convinced that somewhere in the world editing is used as a form of torture, like water boarding. I pushed on and forced myself to only pick out glaring mistakes the first read through. This helped tremendously and I actually began to get absorbed into the story. The character’s made me laugh, some scenes were so intense they made my stomach tighten and I realized underneath all the potential nit-picking, that I had written a book and it wasn’t half bad.
I finished the first read through, made corrections, added some scenes and beefed up the back story of some of the characters. Then I stopped. I went back to writing another novel in progress because I missed writing and this editing business is a lot of work!
It has been almost two months and The Beautiful People (my finished novel) sits on the end table collecting dust. The pages beg to be edited and whisper to me as I type away on another manuscript. Since I've had such a bad case of writer's ADHD lately, I've decided to focus on The Beautiful People and get all of the edits out of the way.
To help make the characters more real for me, I picked celebrity muses who best physically represent my main characters (pictures enclosed). This was a fun little project and made me excited to go back and edit. I mentioned this to a friend, who is also a writer and struggling with editing her manuscript, and she is thinking about taking my idea one step further and creating a scrapbook to collect images representative of her fictitious town plus her characters – almost like a storyboard.
Going forward I think I’m going to include this exercise as part of the creative process and not wait until the editing part. Do any of you have suggestions for getting through the editing process?