Writing Makes Me Happy, Editing is a Chore

February 18, 2020

I’m editing my WIP (work in progress). I don’t like this part of the process. It’s much more rewarding to write – to create characters and scenes and develop motivations and plots. What will this person do next? How will they overcome the obstacles and succeed in their quest or change for the better? Writing is creativity.

Editing is necessary for any written work. I have no problem editing reports or speeches or other nonfiction, but when it comes to my creative writing, I’m loath to remove anything.

This is a brief outline of my editing process:

Once I finish writing, I set it aside for a few days or weeks so I can edit with fresh eyes. The longer the piece, the longer I wait. This is tough because I want to finish the project.

After the wait, I do a thorough read through and condense the piece. I’m good at condensing. Short story writing is training me to be more concise, to make every single word count. Sometimes, however, I have trouble deleting. I may acknowledge the scene description is too long, but I like the way I’ve described things. I become attached to my characters and to certain scenes.

Next, I look at my structure:

  • Does something of interest happen right away?
  • Is the goal or plot clear? Is it enough to make the reader care?
  • Is the main character compelling? Will the reader care?
  • Does the character grow or change?
  • Does every sentence move the scene or story forward?
  • Have I described the setting well enough? Or too much?

Each scene needs a reason to be there. It should contain an objective, conflict, struggle, and outcome.

Then, I look at:

  • Dialogue
  • Flow
  • Pace
  • Conflict and resolution

My next step is to highlight elements of the work. Tension is yellow, background is pink, setting is blue, dialogue is purple, description is green, metaphors and similes are red. This helps me see if the story is balanced.

Then, I check for redundancies. I tend to use some words too frequently, so I do a search and change some of them. For example, how many times do I have a character smiling? Instead, they could stretch, open their arms up, or hug someone. The character who keeps widening his eyes could instead stand back, breathe faster, or swallow. I often connect compound sentences with the word “but”. However, therefore, though, yet, nevertheless – these are all good substitutions. Sometimes, I split the sentence into two.

My final step is a spell check.

The steps I’ve outlined here are basic, and I’ve left some things out. There’s a lot more to it. An outside editor is also an option. I’ll talk more specifics of editing and revising in my next post.

Right now, I’m going to finish my first round of edits, then I’ll set the piece aside again before moving on to the next stage. Wish me luck.

###

 


Office, Coffee Shop, Mountains, Lake, Write

February 4, 2020

One of the nice things about writing is that you can do it anywhere, whether you use a laptop, a tablet or a pad of paper.

I have a great office on the 3rd floor of my home. When I first saw the house, I immediately coveted the third-floor space for writing. I’ve since made it my own, and I do most, but not all, of my writing there early in the morning.

my office

 

My sci-fi, fantasy, thriller short story came to life in a coffee shop. A busy coffee shop. One character looks like the nursing student who always sits in the corner studying. Another character looks like the boyfriend of one of the baristas.

rod-long-I79Pgmhmy5M-unsplash

 

I’ve written in a hotel room in Reno, Nevada, that boasts a fabulous view.

20171116_124418

 

My first train journey inspired me to write as I looked out at the mountains.

 

A couple summers ago, I found myself writing at my beach house, with its view of one of the Great Lakes.

PH rainbow

 

In reality, I don’t need a nice view. When I write, I enter the world I’m creating and tune out my surroundings. Hours can pass without my noticing. Yet, I want a comfy or inspiring place to write.

My writing while viewing the mountains did not include mountains. Likewise for my writing while gazing at the lake.

Every once in a while, when I’m writing, I look up, and small things enter my consciousness. Like the nursing student I noticed in the coffee shop while I was first describing a character named Gina.

The lake and mountains show up in later writing, done in my office.

It’s amazing all the information and images our brains hold. When I write, I unconsciously sift through my experiences and pull out what I need. How cool is that?!

So, even though I can write anywhere, I seek out places that move or inspire or energize me, knowing that inspiration or feeling may not enter my writing for another week or month or longer or ever. Mostly, these places make me feel good in the moment.

###


%d bloggers like this: