Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Writer's Wednesday

I got a little off track last week talking about genres. When I was scrolling back over my posts, I realized that I'd promised to talk about the editing process. I'll get back to genres next week, but today I want to talk about that all important part of the writing process--Editing!

Some authors love to edit, others hate it.

I'm in the first category. I really enjoy editing. Why? Because the story is written. I know how it ends and even if it's not quite the way I want it yet, I know it soon will be.

Now is the time to start at page one and work your way through each page of the manuscript. Knowing what you know now about the story and characters, you can pump up the story where it needs it. You can see where you rushed a scene, adding more dialogue or discription.

It's also the time where you can fix punctuation errors and make better word choices. I'm a write-the-book-from-start-to-finish kinda writer. I don't always pause to ponder the best word choice for a particular sentence. That's what revision is all about.

It's also a great time to catch inconsistencies. Readers have no idea how easy it is to miss something like a change in outfit or a color. You change things--sometimes a half dozen times or more--and sometimes things sneak through the cracks.

Then there is the timeline of the book. You have to make sure that the story makes sense in terms of time. You can't have it be a quiet Sunday one day and then have it be Tuesday, not without briding the gap. If your story takes place over weeks or months, you have to be careful to make sure readers understand time has passed.

The hardest thing about editing is to remember that readers can't see into your head. The writer may know the character's motivation or understand the passage of time, but if it's not explained in a way that's obvious, then readers just won't get it.

That leads me to the importance of having a reader that you trust to go through your manuscript. Some writers have more than one person. That's great if it works for you. A fresh set of eyes can help you see what you've missed in terms of character development, plot-points, grammer and consistency.

For example, my book Capturing Carly originally started at what is now chapter four. But the reader came back and said that Nathan didn't come across the way I intended, and in fact seemed a bit unlikeable. I talked to my reader and discovered that although I knew what Nathan had gone through as a character, I hadn't shown it. So, I wrote a few more new chapters and made changes throughout the entire book. My editor, when she read it, suggested even more changes. That book started as a quickie, became a novella, then a category and finally a full-fledged novel. I realized I needed to really delve into these characters if the readers were going to connect to them. In the end, I had a much strong book--one I'm proud of.

And isn't that the whole point?

I want the work I put out there to be the best it can be. I'd like to think that I'm learning with each book I write and edit. In the end, the editing process is your friend, if you choose to treat it that way.

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