Back in December, I wrote a post asking whether you can ever really finish editing a piece of your own writing. I talked about how I’d recently re-read my entire novel after a six-month break and been surprised by how much I wanted and needed to change.
In this post, I thought I’d share some of my editorial findings and pet problems. All punctuated by some good cartoons, of course 🙂
One of my most common editing notes was “fix flow”, which makes it sound as though I need a plumber rather than an editor! These were places in the story where I felt the connection between sentences or paragraphs was too sudden or jarring and needed smoothing; as if reading were like climbing down a ladder and suddenly a rung was missing. I blame these absent rungs on a previous round of harsh word-cutting prior to submitting to literary agents. From “internet wisdom” I became convinced that if my MS was over 90,000 words I had no hope of anyone asking to read it. And so I cut as many words as I could, leaving things a little too bare in places. However, now it seems I’ll be self-publishing, the book can be as long as I damn well think it needs to be! So the words are going back in (you can’t stop me, mwah-ha-ha-ha-ha… you get the idea).
I had also failed to eradicate inconsistencies in usage. I had “OK” written as “ok”, “okay” and “OK”. I also used “OK” far too much. That’s sorted out now.
And there were orphans. You know, little bits and pieces which get stranded from previous drafts. My example from this edit: “Let’s go to up to my room.” Can you see what happened there? Earlier draft would have said, “Let’s go to my room”; later draft, “Let’s go up to my room.” During the change the first “to” got stranded. As I mentioned in my previous writerly post: EIGHT BETA READERS (and I *cough*) DIDN’T SEE THIS! *shudders*
Words can get confused in the mind of the writer. When you’re writing at unsociable hours around work and other commitments, typing with one hand, propped up by caffeine and sugar, you can make mistakes you’d never make when “sober”. My last beta reader caught a mix-up between “taut” (adjective) and “taught” (verb). I had someone with “taught muscles”. Oh deary me. Muscle lessons must have been compulsory at his high school, I guess.
I described a character’s hair as “coiffed”. Well, I wanted to say “coiffed”, but my MS had it as “quaffed”. I’d like to see that.
Another character had spent all evening dusting and using the vacuum cleaner. I wanted to use the verb “hoover” (that’s a very British one!), but instead I had my character spending the whole evening “hovering”. As my beta reader said, that must have been exhausting!
That’s enough about me. Over to you. Please share your editing tales! Have you ever found something in your MS/WIP that made you laugh?