I don’t usually review dead tree books or those that are only available in ebook format at what I consider to be ridiculously inflated prices (I like my ebooks at no more than $2.99) however since I promised to discuss the craft of revision, editing and polishing the heck out of your work, I’m just going to have to break with that ‘rule’ of mine.
During the process of polishing your manuscript from a pile of slag into a diamond it’s very likely that you’ll come across a line, a passage, an entire chapter that’s so horribly triggering it will throw you into instant despair. Perhaps you won’t even be able to read through the horror on the page because it turns your stomach so. Perhaps every single word will be like a knife, stabbing you in the eye.
It’s not only normal but a good sign. It means that the bloom is off the rose, you’re seeing your work candidly and not as the shining darling you first wrote. Congratulations, you’re now ready to cut that horrible bit right out with extreme prejudice – well almost.
First, you’re probably going to need to curl up in a tight little ball of fear and self loathing for a while. Don’t fight it, just let the despair at your own lack of skill wash over you like a thick suffocating wave. This is your time to re-evaluate, kick yourself, send in job applications because you realize you suck as a writer and can never actually hack it and artificially inflate your ego once again. It’s ok, this darkest moment at the very bottom of despair? It will pass. Maybe not quickly but eventually and so completely you’ll forget it ever existed.
Trying to edit during this down moment will only do you, and your manuscript, a terrible disservice so put it aside and roll with the self inflicted punches. There will be plenty of time when it’s over to go back to your book. Just chalk up the extra time ‘off’ as part of the mellowing process and know that, eventually, your book will be better because of it.
Well I promised and no amount of hating process is going to make it suddenly easier to accomplish – so lets dive in! I’ve already stated that regardless of how much you hate the process revision/editing/rewrites are a must so I won’t brow beat you about it anymore. Instead, let’s start out by looking at the basic terms.
- Revision: focuses on overall readability and clarity
- Rewrite: writing a scene, chapter or page over again.
- Editing: focuses on grammar and punctuation line by line; also sometimes called “line editing“
- Copy Editing: focuses on the text as a whole. Includes both line editing and revision in one.
Sorry I’m late this week with the blog posts. I’ve been busy getting my first book into fighting order and battling Createspace. The good news is that “The Uncertainty of Death” will be available for purchase in print format soon and the ebook will be available for free (one day only) at the time of this posting!
I promised that I’d focus on revision, rewrites and editing while I’m going through the process with my new book, “In the Absence of Famine,” though I must admit I’ve been a bit sidetracked by the actual act of proofing the first. So lets start with editing or more importantly, the importance of a good editor.
Whoohoo! I did it again, wrote “the end” at the end of another thrilling glimpse into the lives of Mitei, Leo, Jules and Aedan. And as per usual I did it while sick off my ass and otherwise indisposed! I’m still kind of floating on cloud 9 with the feeling of accomplishment but that will all come crashing down in the next few days as I start the revision process.
Which brings me to my theme for the upcoming weeks. Revision and editing, essential tools in any writer’s bag o’ tricks.
I was doing that thing I do for fun, where I pretend to play games (but actually don’t because I find them too distracting from the work at hand) and then spend all my free time incognito on the forums for that game living vicariously through others and chatting inanely about anything but writing – when I came across a bunch of nubile young writers distraught over various things. The writer’s block myth was one of those things. Revision and editing was another. One potential writer actually admitting to never having done a revision!
So, since I’ll be busy doing revisions and edits like a hurricane for the next few weeks. I figured now is as good a time to tackle the subject as any. Keeping in mind that: everyone H A T E S revisions, that my revision process is as ever changing as my writing process and that normally I’d love to let my books simmer in a dark corner for 1-10 years – this should be awesome!