Look Ma, I’m Editing! Advice to Others Venturing into the Unknown.
Marking up the draft, yo!
I am not going to lie...part of what probably kept me from finishing the first draft of Mistaken was fear of editing.Of revising my work. Cutting out words I had so PAINSTAKENLY strung together.
Yeah...I'm over that.
As I was nearing the end of my 50k word goal and the end of my outline, I just happened upon Margie Lawson and her classes she offers. After seeing a few great blogs either about her EDITS system or written by her, I was very interested to see what she had to offer. Well unfortunatetly there wasn't a class for editing coming up.
But she also offers lecture packets. For $22 dollars I figured why the heck not?!
I swear this isn't a paid advertisement, but I am in love with this system to edit your work. I was following her highlighting system and it was like something from inside my draft came up and smacked my forehead.
It was all "PSSST! Rayvenne! You are missing something here!"
And I was all like... "OH EM GEE! You're right draft!"
(I'll warn you I have been downing lots of rockstar drinks lately...so I may have actually talked to my draft.)
But in all seriousness. I love it and I feel like it is helping me in this uncharted editing territory I am finally in. Lots of my first draft may need fixing...but just having the ladyballs to finish it felt really good.
Now to make it book material.
I'll share with you a before and after excerpt:
At that exact moment, realization came over Jamie's face. He kenw who that man was and he knew what he was there for. And as the bullets ripped through his chest, he knew he was going to die. He lurched backward violently, before his body collapsed against the hardwood floor with a loud thud. His eyes wide with shock.
AFTER (and possibly will still be tightened further).
At that exact moment, the purpose of this man’s visit became as clear as the fear in Jamie’s eyes. He knew who the ominous stranger was . He knew he was there to kill him. And as the bullets ripped through his chest, he knew his life was coming to an abrupt end . His body lurched backward violently, absorbing the shots before collapsing against the hardwood floor with a loud thud. Sprawled helplessly against the foyer floor, Jamie’s eyes stared up at the ceiling, widening with each breath he couldn’t take. His heart beat erratically, like the gears of a machine coming apart, as the world around him seemed to do the same.
For a first run through of this part...I feel that there is improvement. Could there be more? I'm sure. I'll probably do a second sweep after I am done with this one, then hand it over to my beta readers. I definitely reccommend Margie's classes and lecture packets, especially about her EDITS system. It truly is helping me see what I have on the page. And more importantly what I don't.
Another example. In chapter 1 of Mistaken, Dillan is inside her own head THE WHOLE TIME! There is some of it where she is leaving the apartment, where she thinks she sees Jamie on the bus and chases after him...but then its just DILLAN. In.her.head. Also...I didn't even realize how much redundant backstory was in the first chapter. Chunks...not sentences, but CHUNKS are now gone from that chapter.
But you know what? It sure is flowing a lot better now.
I used to be hard on myself and think that writing had to be perfect at the first go. But as I have heard other writers (published and not) say, you have to allow yourself to suck a little on your first draft.
It makes total sense... you are trying to get this complicated story down, these complicated characters down. Sometimes you can't always find the right words. Sometimes you just use cliche's or the same word over and over and over. Because you just need to get the story OUT OF YOU!
Once I finished Mistaken's draft last weekend I swear to you, I nearly had a panic attack. OH SHIT! This sucks! How am I going to fix it?
One time I tried to knit a sweater. I dropped one stitch...ONE! Subsequently it undid several others.
That was much harder to fix than my draft. And it made me curse much more.
As a previous Edit-o-phobic writer, I am here to tell you that editing isn't so bad. In fact I think I am one of those weirdos that likes it more than doing the draft! If you are really scared of doing it though, don't be afraid to seek out help, whether its via writing/editing classes, or working with an editor, do it!
J.A Howell is an office drone by day, and a writer by night. Her love of writing took off when she was eleven years old and decided to fill a composition notebook with stories to read to her friends. Many years (and notebooks) later, not much has changed. She still loves writing and sharing her works with others. When she isn’t writing, she can often be found trying her hand at whatever artistic pursuit strikes her fancy. J.A. Howell resides in South Carolina with her magical, three legged cat, Abra, and her gecko, Jack.
She currently writes Dark Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, and BDSM Erotic Romance.