1. whitefairy24601
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    whitefairy24601 Member

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    Editing

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by whitefairy24601, Jul 14, 2011.

    Okay, so I write a story, get into that writing high, and call it a night. Then, the next day I sit in front of my story and realize all of my mistakes and awful sentences.
    But, I never, ever seem to have the patience to edit. Does anyone have any ideas on how I can get myself to buckle down and fix it?
    Thanks a ton!
     
  2. Holden
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    Holden Senior Member

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    I take it little by little. Start with a paragraph and see if you notice any glaring mistakes. Fix the spelling and grammar first. Try and get that "writing high" in your mind, except this time for editing. It can feel good moving through a piece, taking off the fat. After you've done a paragraph or two, look back at how much cleaner it looks. It's a pretty good feeling seeing a page worth of writing expressed the same way in two paragraphs. :)
     
  3. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    There are two schools of thought here. Some prefer to edit as they go while others choose to plug on through the the end and then go back and do the editing process. Of course, if you edit as you go anything that comes up later and may change what happened before will require yet another edit after you are finished anyway. Hmm. I guess that would be three schools of thought, wouldn't it?

    Anyway, there is no easy way to do the drudge jobs you face, be it proof reading, editing, writing synopses, or vacuuming the floor. Whatever it is, you simply have to bite the bullet and do it. The good news is that, the more you do it, the easier it gets. Oddly enough, there are many who get so wrapped up in the editing and proofing phase that alone becomes a stall tactic of sorts. Remember, you can edit and edit and proof read forever. Many highly published authors say they will not read their own work after it gets published because they will start editing it and thinking, "I should have done it this way," or "I should have said it like that."

    Set aside one day, or a couple of hours a day or week or whatever just for editing. Just tell yourself that's part of the process and it must be done. And ... Good Luck.
     
  4. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's an interesting thought. I know when I was editing my last work, in the beginning I kept thinking I'd never finish. I would procrastinate and just feel like 'there's soo much to be done'.

    What helped me was to set some rough timelines, i.e. I said I'd finish this (final) round of editing by March. Whether it happened or not (and it didn't), it gave me an incentive to push forward. I also jotted down some bulletpoints of things I wanted/needed to work on. It give me a bit of oversight.

    At times I just had to really find some motivation from somewhere, and tell myself to get on with it. The good news is that I finished, and actually had a feeling of my work being as close to 'finished' as it will be. I didn't expect that to hit me, but it did.

    So just keep going. :)
     
  5. e(g)
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    e(g) Member

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    There will be pain!

    The "writing high": that's a good term. That's were 99% of the people who call themselves writers do their work. Revision and editing, however, is what real writers do.

    It's only in revision and editing that we create all the logical connections, work out the correct pacing, check for POV shifts, and basically eliminate all the mistakes that fiction writers tend to make (stilted dialogue, unrealistic motivations, incongruent character traits, etc.), not to mention finding all the grammatical errors and editing debris like:

    She went did not go to the store.​

    At least you recognize your need to edit (because all fiction first drafts need copious amounts of editing and revision--even Stephen King's). At least you are looking for a way to get motivated, because what a lot of those 99-ers do is become narcissistic about it. Their inability to face the imperfection of their writing leads them to believe their writing is fine just the way it is. I know they do this, because I review gothic novels from small presses and independent publishers. I have a hell of a time finding works that are even worth reading past their first chapters.

    Most of those narcissistic works are horribly edited, their Kindle formatting is grotesque, and their book covers are pathetic. These are the writers who are taking advantage of the modern era in self-publishing but who don't have the discipline to write right. They want the writing high, as you’d have it, but they don’t want to face what you referred to as the next day’s awful sentences.

    To find your motivation to edit, in my opinion, is to really re-think being a writer. You must want to produce a quality work more than you want to "be" a writer. In other words, you need to come to terms with the work and then ask yourself if it's really something you want to spend your life doing. There are probably lots of things you could be good at, even genius at. And those things could signify your life as much as writing would. But if after giving it that consideration you still want to be a writer, then you have to want the work. First draft is not work; editing and revision is the work.

    And editing and revision is an academic pursuit. Some people think college is absolutely unnecessary to be a writer. They have a point to a degree (pun intended). It's hard to say exactly what kind of subjects a writer should study. John Grisham went to law school. He didn't get a degree in Creative Writing. Stephen King was an English teacher, he didn't teach pulp horror to his students. But what I think really makes a college degree important is the fact that revising, editing, and copyediting a full-length manuscript is an academic endeavor. It's geekish. It's studious. It's attention to small boring detail for a long time. It's just like getting an academic degree. It may not be the case that college is necessary; it may be the case that being the “college type” is necessary.

    I think you are having a hard time finding the motivation to edit because you have not yet answered the fundamental question of whether you really want to be a fiction writer. And that's okay. It's an important life decision, it's not better or worse than any other pursuit, and you have to decide whether it's a good fit for you. At least you seem to care, and that says a lot.

    I’ll give you an analogy from my martial arts life. A guy tonight told me that he will never be able to kick as high as me, that he would never be as flexible as me, and we are both about the same age (later 40’s). I told him that I go through--on a regular basis--and have gone through on a regular basis a tremendous amount of pain training the muscles in my legs to be flexible. He said, “Yeah, but I’ll never be that committed to it.” What could I say? He’s right; he'll never kick as high as me.

    It looks really good to have a book you wrote sitting on a shelf, or a cover up there on Amazon Kindle. It feels good to write a rough draft (it’s free and artistic). But behind the façade of all the smiling back-flap author's photos are all the mornings of “Awful Sentences.”

    My wife is a painter, you can see her work on our website (www.the-gordon-composition.com). Each painting took her roughly six months to do. She’s won awards and money, and we're putting two of her works in a show tomorrow. But I know that in each and every painting she has up there, she questioned and lamented over whether or not she was any good or even deserved the title of artist.

    Thanks for letting me use your post to go on and on. I wish you the best of luck in deciding on a career in fiction writing. I hope I get to review one of your works some day if you decide it's for you.

    Sincerely,

    E of G
     
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  6. whitefairy24601
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    whitefairy24601 Member

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    Thank you so much for this well thought out answer. I love to write, and maybe as a career it is for me, or maybe I don't have it, but it is people like you who make me want to do it. If I was a writer I wouldn't want to be sub-par. I would want to be the writer who has their books devoured and digested thoroughly by it's readers. But one thing I know is that if I want readers they have to be the ones to enjoy the story, not only me. Writing isn't for yourself, it's for who you are writing for and I forget that a lot when editing. However, I strive to be a great writer and that is why I joined here. Of course, I didn't expect this much help in one day.
    Anyways, thanks a lot and sorry if this reply is to... gushy. Hahaha! :)
     
  7. e(g)
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    e(g) Member

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    Well then, White Fairy, I pity you, and I pity myself, because we have no other option than to be novelists. I feel like you do, and you said it so very well when you said, I know is that if I want readers they have to be the ones to enjoy the story, not only me. Writing isn't for yourself, it's for who you are writing for and I forget that a lot when editing. However, I strive to be a great writer[...]

    Therefore we are at the roulette table called the writing life, and we are laying our chips on either black or red, and we don't know what God intends for an outcome. So hang in there. Revise and edit a page a day. If you do that, you've done what you needed to do. First drafts will sound horrible; so don't ever worry about that.

    It's a mirage, you know: that writers write well right off the bat. It's how we make others think we're geniuses. We write a polished novel that took us forever to finish, but we say to anyone who will listen, "Oh, I was drunk one night and tapped this out just before vomiting and going to bed. Really, it's nothing. You should see what I can do when I really try."

    We (fiction writers) are nothing if not complete egomaniacs. That's why we make our names bigger than the title on the cover of our books. We have to be egomaniacs; our stories are not real, and we are not geniuses, but we want everyone else to think we have deep themes and utterly insightful morals, and all the people of the world should thank God our genius exists to share what is in our minds with them. We make up ourselves just like we make up our stories. It's just like the habitual gambler who walks into the casino acting like he's the biggest winner in the world.

    But we know the truth: Every novel we pour ourselves into will be either red or black, hit or miss, and there's no escaping it. So, carry on my wayward son, and be prolific.

    E of G

    P.S. I know I stole the last line from Kansas. I'm a writer; what else did you expect? :)

    E.
     
  8. whitefairy24601
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    whitefairy24601 Member

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    I showed this to my sister and she said that you were a wordsmith! If you can write something this well just for a young girl striving to write, then a book by you should be placed above the Dan Brown's and J. K. Rowlings of the world. Whenever I don't want to edit I shall just have to read your posts and it should go off without any problem other than more awful sentences, but then at least I will be trying to fix them! Thank you so very much. I am indeed inspired, more than any poker player! Because their's is an issue of having enough money to play. Ours is having the will and simply what it takes.
    Thank you for your help. Another obstacle has been overcome, or at least stumbled over for the moment.
     
  9. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    At times, rewriting is more efficient than tweaking, if there are many errors. You could set the font to a new color, like red, so you can tell what's changing, and then rewrite each paragraph before deleting the old one...take it graf by graf...

    It's what I do when I realize that a certain scene is too bland or something.
     
  10. e(g)
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    e(g) Member

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    Well, thank you. :)
     
  11. katsenis
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    katsenis New Member

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    Writing is one thing, editing another

    I think that what you are doing is good. In your evening frenzies you are getting all your ideas out there. A pure creative moment. You need this. The editing stuff is well, just stuff we all have to do. You can pay someone to do it, or just accept that it is a separate part of the writing schedule. I am sure there are some writers who can be both creative and accurate in one sitting. But my guess is that editing is a drag for nearly all of them.

    Being aware that this bothers you may help somewhat. Just knowing that you hate to see so many errors the next morning may help lower the number of careless boo boos!

    Otherwise, type with a spell and grammar check program if you can stand to do that. The problem is, these programs do not to do well with poetic lisence.
     
  12. darkhaloangel
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    darkhaloangel Active Member

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    Editing is one of my favourite parts of writing. It's putting the meat on the bones and making everything read right. It's only the first step to write something down - then it's draft, draft, draft.

    I suppose you've just got to find something fun about editing. I find it a good form of procrastination, when I'm not actually writing new original parts.
     
  13. PenandPencil
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    PenandPencil Member

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    I usually edit as I go ... say if I write 2 pages in a 'session', then when I'm about to go off and stop writing, I skim through the piece thoroughly before I do leave. Personally, I wouldn't like to write a whole chapter and then go back over it in one piece. It seems daunting lookng at pages and pages of text that could perhaps hold handfuls upon handfuls of mistakes, and there will be some you will miss.

    And usually, when I finish a paragraph, I read over it aout 5 times and check all grammar and spelling. It's just a habit now.
     
  14. JeffS65
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    JeffS65 Contributing Member

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    I constantly edit. I don't really see it as editing in as much as part of the creative process. I know I don't get it right the first time and have made my work substantially better by combing through it, even if as just a read. I see it as part of the art of learning writing. Assessing my own work. Sure, you have to know when to quit editing but it's not just about typos but about ensuring that your message/story is as good as it can be.
     
  15. Interceptor
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    Interceptor New Member

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    It may seem unusual, but I find editing quite relaxing process. :|
     
  16. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Me too, I actually like it a lot. :) editing and rewriting, I like both parts as much as the initial creative process.
     

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