Friday, February 10, 2012

Slash and Burn

Today's post will deal with that delightful, yet painful and necessary, part of writing. Editing! Justice Brandeis once said: "There is no great writing, only great rewriting." I totally believe this. When I wrote the first draft of Griffin's Song, I was so excited that I'd finished my first book.

I sat down and read it. And it was awful. The story was there, but I wouldn't have finished it if I were someone just picking it up off a shelf. And I know this sentiment isn't only my own. I was lucky enough to attend a book signing by Christopher Paolini, and he told basically the same story. Apparently in the first draft Eragon wasn't named Eragon, it was something like Thomas or Ed or John. Doesn't have quite the same effect, eh?

So how do you go about editing? Myself, I have a harder time editing if I'm not looking at a hard copy of the work. I enjoy taking the red pen and doing evil things to the page. And there's something very satisfying about putting a big X through a passage. I also do tweaks on the computer, but I know there are other ways as well.

I'd like to hear about them. How do you edit? Are you a slash and burn person, like me, or are you more delicate? Do you make a list of things you need to change, or just fix as you go? Let me know!

1 comment:

  1. Hee. I can totally relate to this; I was so pleased with my first novel - in fact, my first two! - upon finishing, but kinda cringe a bit now when I go back and look at them. I never really edited/revised either. Magestone was the first one I seriously set to revising, and the only one I've finished revising for so far, too.

    I've sort of got stages I went through with Magestone, and plan to with the next ones, and I do many passes to address them all. I start out working on large-picture stuff like cutting whole scenes or sections that are superfluous to the story or whose information could easily be worked into another scene; and I add scenes where I realize I need a scene to show some particular event or character development or whatever. Then because one of my weaknesses is in painting realistic secondary characters, I go through and add more personality to them all. More cutting, more adding, more character strengthening, according to CP feedback and my own assessment after the MS has sat for a while. And then again, after yet another round of CP reading. I make a list of things I need to address if they occur to me, but mostly I just fix as I go. Most of it is done on the computer, though I do print it out once just to see it from a different perspective. Line edits for wording and flow I make as I read through; I don't do a specific pass just for them, though some other writers do. I believe I did seven rounds of revisions/edits on Magestone, all told, with three rounds of CP viewings (I had six people read it, two each round).