Re-editing the Past

Lookie here! Posting after only a week! Woo!

I made a few commitments this new year, instead of resolutions, as inspired by my amazing mentor, Tee Morris (link). The idea is that we always believe that it’s okay for resolutions to fail, so,  when ours do, we shrug it off. Tee suggests instead making commitments, ones which we feel obligated to see through. One of mine is to blog more frequently.

Another is to get my next book published.

Yes, this is my earliest alert. It’s not certain yet (There will certainly be a blog post once I know definitely when it’s happening), but it’s my commitment to myself, so I will see this through to the best of my abilities.

One of the things I’ve always struggled with was editing my manuscripts. Writing the stories themselves comes easy. Tweaking it (or, in the case of wanting to be published, cutting out its heart with a spoon), is a much more daunting task. My novels are my babies, as many writers and authors out there can attest to. We put our heart and soul into creating these universes and characters and plots that always take a huge amount of love and care to create and maintain. But, then, in order to be the most competitive, we need to rip it to shreds, because, apparently, it’s not good enough as is.

At first, this was a hard thing for me to accept. When I started my journey into becoming an author almost twelve years ago, every bit of poetry/story I wrote was praised. Most couldn’t believe a middle school/high school student could write that well or that maturely. It built up my confidence in my writing abilities, one of the only things in my life I have confidence in.

The upsetting fact is that we are biased. When we write our first draft, we are blinded by this amazing world and in-depth, painfully-realistic characters we created all by ourselves. We have to come to the realization that, yes, this is a wonderful story, but is it the best for us, or the best for the story itself? It’s hard to come to terms with, because we can only see things from our own perspective, the one which created the story we fell in love bringing to life in text.

That’s when three things come in handy:

  1. Beta Readers

Beta readers are one of the best resources you could have. You can get help from people who you can trust will give you an unbiased review, with advice and tweaks in plot and flaws. The best part about these guys is the fact that they can look at it with fresh eyes. They have never met these characters before (or, in the case of a second or third book, never seen the situations they are about to), and can give a perspective of your prospective readers. You want your prospective readers to like it, right? take their advice then. Now, you don’t have to accept all their advice, but give their ideas and views a serious think-over before deciding on the edit.

2. Editors

They can be your best friend, or your mortal enemy. But, they have the best skills necessary to pound your precious baby into a strong, believable novel that will appeal to many (hopefully). That’s right, I’m talking about the cursed EDITOR.

Now, don’t get me wrong, some of my nicest friends are editors. But… They scare me! I’m terrified of editors, because you hear about the fatal pen all the time as a starting out writer. With all the marks of the Red Pen of Death, destroying everything you’ve poured a bit of yourself into. However, an editor just wants to make your work better. Their goal, believe it or not, is not to tear you, or your story, down. It’s just to help it be the best it can be. And, sadly, the best story it can be is not your first draft. Also, just like betas, you don’t have to accept every change they make. And, most will not be offended. In the end, you know what’s best for the story as a whole, but sometimes, it takes a skilled, outside opinion to gain a new perspective on the greatness your manuscript can become.

3. STEPPING AWAY!

This is the best advice I can give. When you are so blinded where you can read your story over and over again and see nothing wrong but a few missed commas or an capitalized T, you need to stand up and walk away for a while. My current project I’m editing, I haven’t touched since May of 2015. Back then, it had been five months since the last edit, and I apparently went to town on it. I didn’t even remember making immense edits on it until I opened the document this week to do more. In fact, the first chapter, the very FIRST paragraph, had things added that I hadn’t remembered even thinking of adding. The best part?

IT MADE IT BETTER!

And, if the prologue was made better after a five month break between December 2014 and May 2015, imagine how much I can make my story better after an eight month hiatus. In fact, just this week, my word count has been fluctuating, and I’ve been tweaking and editing, because, while I still love my characters and the universe I’ve created, I am not blinded by the stadium lights of a deviously tricky first draft.

My goal is to publish the best story my novel can be. In order to achieve that, I need to edit. We ALL need to edit. In the end, our opinions don’t really matter. Our readers do.

And, no matter how many edits we make…

The story will still speak for itself.

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