Hello again reader, I’m trying to get back into the groove of a routine and it’s only taken me almost 4 months. No sense in rushing these things.
Today I’d like to chat about editing and where that can take you; the things it can lead you to do.
For instance, trying to describe the way someone’s face looks and expression changes when they are surprised. Yes reader, I do pretend and then scribble down the results.
Sometimes, ok – most of the time, I find myself so busy examining facial & body movement and reactions on the telly or while I’m out for coffee that I forget to follow the show’s plot or respond to the MOTT’s (Man Of The Truck) question. Not to mention eaves dropping. MOTT reckons I’m am embarrassingly obvious in my attempts to observe fellow diners. So I guess I won’t be getting a job as an undercover private investigator. Never mind, I’ll just have to continue with this writing gig.
The other clanger I battle with is repetitive words. As you can imagine, reading over a paragraph and realising you have written the MC looked, was looking and saw, seventeen times in the same sentence isn’t what you want to see. See! See what I mean? It’s hardly what one would call good writing, but it is fairly normal for a first draft. The problem is when you want to convey the situation and lose all the repetitive words. This is where we drag out the Thesaurus and start dredging for the exact word. And let’s face it, sometimes the exact word is “Look”.
I can spend far too much time flicking through good books I’ve read to find a passage that describes a scene well. To get a feel for the perfect description, how it’s done and why it works. So much time that I end up not doing much on the actual edit.
I’ve recently read a post on a writing forum regarding how long it takes to revise or edit for different people. I must admit there is a lot of weeping and gnashing of teeth when I read that someone takes about a week, less if there’s a deadline. HOW? I demand of the screen. This question quickly rolls over into WHAT AM I DOING WRONG? I mean for goodness sake, it can take me all day to edit one chapter and then I go over it again the next day and I have to start over. It took me 30 days to write Something In the Water and it’s taken me over 12 months and 70 gazillion edits to realise I need to do it again. I honestly wonder sometimes if I’m beating a dead horse. But, and I really appreciate every single bit of advice or encouragement I get, friends, writing buddies and just about everyone who’s read it, urges me on, to not give up and to keep at it. So I do. So the advice I clutch to my heart is this comment from one well known author of romance, she said “How long is a piece of string”. Yes, those seven simple words have pulled poor Kiki and Jared from the fire once again and I will battle on. On with the edit I say . . . ok, I might be getting a bit delirious here.
As a reader do you notice things like repeated word, or even worse, if a writer has written a scene that seems an obvious attempt to say someone looked at the ant on the corner of the table without using the word “look”? Writers, do you struggle with this darker side of writing too? How long does it take you to edit a story to publishing standard? How many sweeps are required? I find if I’m in a good story I don’t notice the writing, but that may be because the writing is so good that I don’t notice the writing at all. Now there’s a thought.