Monday, February 11, 2008

Yes, I am

Today, February 11th, I'm forced to ask myself a question. Am I incapable of reading KINDRED (Trouble The Waters... Canaan's Shore... whatever...) without doing a line-by-line edit?

After a week of reading and getting through all of three (three!) chapters, I have the answer:

Yes. Yes, I am.


"That's a self-imposed restriction," said Linda, a writer friend who dropped by last week.

"True, true," said I, glaring at the four-inch stack of single-spaced pages that is KINDRED (or whatever) sitting on my living room chair. "But it's part of the guidelines I'm trying to follow."

But if it's so hard to refrain from adding scratch outs and circles and alternative words and phrases to every page I read, and not refraining is so darn fun, maybe I ought to stop fighting it and just go with it, heh? Make up my own guidelines or at least bend them a little to better suit the workings of my peculiar writer's brain? Find what works for me and just do it?

So what if it takes longer? Now is the time for taking longer. I may never have time to take longer again.


  1. Ah, yes, time. The time has come for me to print out the manuscript of Stand-In Groom and do exactly what you're doing--a line edit. I haven't really done anything with the ms since I completed it two years ago--and that was when I was still in the learning stages in my copy editor career. Since I now have the objectivity of distance and two years' experience as a professional copy editor, the time has come to sit down and find all those little problem areas that bothered me before or that I won't have even realized are there until I examine it again.

    But I do have to say, there is an advantage to being able to just sit and read what you've written without line-editing it. If you're so concentrated on the technicalities of the words and grammar and punctuation, you're not allowing yourself to truly enter the story, not allowing yourself to see if everything is flowing together, not allowing yourself to get lost in your characters and their world.

    I suggest you see if you can read the next three chapters while sitting on your hands, no pen nearby, with the internal editor bound and gagged in the back of your mind. Just read. See if you can enjoy reading your story without worrying about commas and alternative words that could/should have been used. Because if you can't get into the story, no one else will be able to, either.

  2. Kaye,

    I don't know. Somehow I'm managing to do both (edit and become absorbed in the story), at least today as I get deeper in. Last week, not so much.

    Those beginning chapters have bugged me royally. I've been less than eager to read them. A sure indication that they need to be vastly reworked.

    But I'm past that point now and being drawn into the tale, and what edits I've done today have been the fly by sort. This is the part of writing that gives me the purest joy. I'm not so sure denying myself that joy is the way to enhance my absorption in the story. I find I'm more distracted by _not_ drawing a line over a needless adjective or adverb, than I am by leaving it lie.

    In any case, I'm making much faster progress today and doing far less editing.

    My best wishes on the line-edit for Stand-In Groom. When is your deadline? And do you need to do more than a line-edit?

    I tend to do mine by internal rhythm, but it's the structural edit (pacing, consistency, story arc, spiritual arc, back story revelation, etc.) that's going to prove the biggest challenge to me. This is the first adult novel I've completed in over ten years. I've learned a lot about writing in that time. The shaping work is going to be more extensive than anything I've done before.

    But I'm still pretty jazzed to have finished a manuscript, despite its faults. Take _that_, chemo brain! *s*

  3. Deadline for final manuscript for SIG is April 1. I won't get Barbour's changes until around March 1, but they've told me to go ahead and make whatever edits to it I want. I have already pulled all of the scenes where the hero and heroine for the second book pop up and changed what I needed there, and there's one scene of dialogue between Anne and George that I never really liked, so I'm going to go in and change it, now that I know better what they should be talking about. And I may do come cutting of a few unnecessary adjectives and descriptions here and there. But not much. I'm going to wait to do anything in-depth until I get their alts. And I'll just mark my stuff up on a hard copy, then compare it to theirs before I start making any of my changes (except the scene changes).

  4. That doesn't sound like you'll be rushed through the process. That's good. One of the concerns I've had, as I've learned more about the business of contracts and publishing, is the rapidity with which some authors are able to (or pressured to) produce books. The only novel I've written in less than a year was my childrens story. But then, my adult novels tend to be twice as long as most CBA novels, well over 200,000 words. Not sure how I'll ever fit the mold, whether there's a place for such long historicals, or if all the changing will have to mine. *s*

    Nothing ventured....