Friday, June 2, 2017

To Edit or Not To Edit

To edit or not to edit. That is the question.

Fortunately for us all, I'm not Shakespeare, nor am I currently sufficiently caffeinated to offer you a two hour treatise in iambic pentameter that would convince you the answer to the editing question is yes. Always yes.

I can have the tendency to be the contrarian here on the blog. But not with this issue. You've had a legion of excellent reasons from excellent writers on why you should hire at least one editor for your work. I'll add another.

Let's suppose your work is polished and clean. You've even had some beta readers. Their feedback was generally good and you fixed all of the typos and misplaced commas they called out. You're golden right?


Hire that dev editor. Reason being that the dev editor exists to call you on your story-crafting shorthand. We all have it. It's the reflex gesture or the phrases we use so habitually that they become invisible to us. Unless you are an extraordinarily unusual writer, you have information about your scenes, your characters and your conflict that are in your head, but that never made it to the page. Also, that slow scene just before the climax? The one you've spent so much time telling yourself is just fine but you only half believe it? Yeah. It's not okay. And a good dev editor will call it out and even suggest options for fixing it.

I have a critique group. Two, in fact. On that meets in person and one virtual. All of my books go through those groups. That's four multi-published authors and several very experienced writers  who well on their way to being published reading my stuff and yelling at me when I mess something up. That should be good enough, shouldn't it? I mean. That many eyes on my writing makes for some very clean stuff.  Except.

Because these people know me, they know my modes of expression, both in person and in writing. When they read my text, they hear MY voice reading it, not their own. It's gotten to the point that major plot holes have been missed because these lovely writers know me well enough now to know what I meant even if I didn't say it on the page. This is natural and normal human behavior. The key is acknowledging it. The groups bring tremendous value to my process, especially early in a book's life cycle. But it's on me to accept that these groups no longer call me on every last bit of my story shorthand.

So. Editor. Editor. Editor. Editor.

The edit letter will annoy you. It usually does me. You get 24 hours of wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then you suck it up and you objectively evaluate what you were told about your book and you fix it. Your readers will thank you. I'd like to tell you that you'll be a better writer - and maybe at some point you will, but all I can see is that I keep finding new mistakes to make. So ymmv.

Apologies for the late post. The week has defined shitty. Starting with Saturday night, when Autolycus informed us that he was done with this life. He died Saturday night. He had acute renal failure likely brought on by bladder cancer. He was 18.  

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