Tuesday, August 31

An Editor's Eye...

I've been going through The Necromancer's Apprentice giving it a final once over. I realized (actually a while ago) that it's a lot different editing a full manuscript than it is editing for my fanfiction posts. When I've got the whole thing sitting in front of me, it's easier to decide which whole scenes to chop out... not that I regret leaving in all those fluffy non-plot-moving scenes in my fanfiction. I know that my readers enjoy the fluff, and frankly, so do I. (Besides, at the moment at least, in Necromancer's Apprentice, there isn't much call for fluff. I'm expecting more fluff in my NaNoWriMo novel since it's officially a romance and the Necromancer's Apprentice most definitely is not.)

Of course, I'm also about 10 years older and hopefully more skilled than I was when I wrote the first draft of the Necromancer's Apprentice. I owe a lot of that to writing fanfiction and the wonderful people who have supported me through that.

I think I've developed a better Editor's eye 'in my old age' and that makes me feel good about my growth as a writer.

Editing is a vital skill for every writer to have. It's more than just catching your own spelling, grammar and punctuation errors (and, at least in my case, remember whether you're writing in American or British English! I write my Torchwood fanfiction using British spelling and punctuation rules and it's nearly impossible not to have some of that creep into the rest of my writing.) Everyone can (should) get someone else to help them with copy-editing/beta reading to ferret out all the typos and things spell-check can't catch. After a while, your own eyes simply gloss over missing and wrong words. What you have to do for yourself is to learn to detect from you story--no easy task, it's something you've been slaving loving over for the past six months to a year, possibly even longer. You're invested emotionally and intellectually in these characters and their story; you care about what happens. This manuscript is you baby! But it won't grow unless you cut out the things that are holding it down. It's only once you've detached yourself from your work emotionally, that can you ask yourself the hard questions: Is this scene necessary? Does it contribute anything, either to plot or character development? Is this a good place to tell instead of show... what's that? Yeah, there's a thought for you. Writer's wisdom (or at least writing magazines and teachers) tell us to always "show, don't tell." But if you showed every single little thing, even a short story would be twice as long. So no, I think there are definitely places where you can tell rather than show, as long as you tell it in an entertaining way. (I've cut a number of scenes that either a) re-told/showed the same thing or b) no, really, worked better to just tell the reader what the characters discussed in a couple of paragraphs, rather than to show them the entire four page conversation. Absolutely nothing was lost and the plot moved along better, became tighter.) You might even find yourself cutting out whole characters or sections of back story if they don't contribute in some way to either plot or character development.

So parting thoughts: don't be afraid to take a metaphorical hatchet to your novel. After all, one has to weed the garden and prune the trees in order for them to grow into beautiful plants.

And now... two more hours of editing, then off to sew and in just a little over twenty four hours, I'm headed with the family down to Atlanta, GA for DragonCon! (Holy spumoni, Batman! When I hit this with spell check, I only had one spelling error! Goddess bless, Ms. Good would be proud! She was my Creative Writing teacher in the 9th grade.)

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