Monday, December 10, 2012



The weather has been so mild here the last week it makes me think of spring. Not that spring is anywhere close but I can wish, can’t I? I've been sighing over flower catalogues and dreaming of beautiful flowers and plants. The garden pictures are breathtaking.  My fingers are itching to get in the dirt.

I look at my existing flowerbeds. Hmm, they’re in relatively good shape, well defined but a bit of a mess. Several are under several inches of oak leaves from my big oak trees. There are weeds to pull. I’m going to have to clear a lot junk to make them flower garden worthy. I can see the picture in my head of what I want it to be. What it should look like. Then I look at what it is. Sometimes the transition between what is and what you want to be is overwhelming.  It’s a lot of work.

It reminds me of editing.  I have a clear picture in my head of what it should be, but then there are all those layers of *leaves and weeds* that have to be so it matches the story in my head. At this stage of the season, some things are hard to identify as weeds. God forbid I pull the wrong thing. Of course I have done that before and I know most things can be replanted or, to carry the analogy further, dropped into a data file and inserted later.

Just as my eye looks over all the existing flowerbeds in my yard and I feel overwhelmed with the work involved; so it is with editing. When gardening, I tend to look at my whole yard and what I’m trying to create. Then I take a section at a time and work on it. Editing? I’m trying to apply the same principle. A section at a time.

Presently, my work schedule is hectic—a couple hours shy of full time. By the time I’m finished with working for a paycheck and the work around the ranch, my mind doesn't have a lot of creative sparks. I do have a ton of finished stuff I've written the past few years that needs editing. I've been feeling an itch to tackle it and get it cleaned up to the point I can hand it over to an editor. This is my project for this winter.

Let’s throw this to the practiced. Some of you have had the benefit of professional editors. I’m not sure if that’s a blessing or a not, but it is interesting how the professionals look at your work and make a cut here or suggest additions there to improve the story.

  • So share. How do you edit your work? Do you have a system?
  • What would you suggest to those of us who aren't as experienced and just beginning to edit some of our work?


You only need 2 tools in life: WD-40 and duct tape.  
      If it’s supposed to move and doesn't, use the WD-40.  
If it isn't supposed to move and does, use the duct tape.


Yvonne's World of Poetry said...

I'm thinking of spring because the weather here is so cold. Heavy frost each night.
Enjoyed reading your post.


Shakespeare said...

As an editor (and writer), I admit that revising is my passion. It's mostly my passion because my first drafts utterly stink.

Revising takes more concentration than writing, though, at least for me. I suggest reading it through aloud at least once. I love good dialogue, and reading the novel aloud helps me hear when it isn't so good.

I also suggest, when you stop and start, that you always go back several pages, so that the whole thing flows. Even a few hours' interruption can stop the flow if I don't go back. Then again, I revise obsessively, so I DON'T suggest revising for years and years and never sending your book out. That's my biggest issue.

Tonya Kappes said...

I feel your pain! I write my first draft, and then go back to fill in the meat which I will deep edit as I go. I send it to my editor, who returns it to me, and then send it back to the editor for a final. Most the time it's NOT final!

Jo said...

Sounds like the navy saying, if it moves salute it, if it doesn't paint it.

Always lots to be done in gardens, don't have one any more, and in many ways, I don't miss it.

James Rafferty said...

Sia, your garden metaphor is useful. I'm currently working my way through words in my 2nd novel that I wrote over the past 6 years. I'm moving hard copy from notebooks into soft copy and am doing a light edit where it's not too complex. Nonetheless, when the MS is all in the PC, I'll need to do a lot more pruning and do the kind of work that "Shakespeare" and Tonya note above -- make it flow as a whole and tidy up all of the loose ends.

Editing can seem endless, but there comes a time when others need to look at it, preferably as beta readers. An editor with an expert eye can also add a lot of value when seeing your words for the first time in terms of noting inconsistencies and offering suggestions on where to go deeper (or lighter).

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Yeah, it's rather warm here right now.
I make dozens of passes through my work first and then let my critique partners and test readers at it. After more editing, it goes to my publisher. Sometimes there are a few minor changes before it goes to the main editor. That's where my third manuscript is right now.