Editing your work
Quick note: My apologies. Last week I mentioned that I would be getting uncanny, but I realized (only today when I opened my notebook) that the panel on the new weird, speculative fiction, and uncanny literature was one that I sat back and enjoyed rather than taking copious notes. I guess I needed a bit of a break (!)
In any case, I did take notes on the self-editing panel. And here they are 🙂
AB: I used to write a scene because I wanted to follow the path for the story. Now, if I know a scene will likely be cut, I can run through it in my mind without writing it.
MP: Do you edit as you write?
KA: If I edit as I go, I’ll never finish. My first drafts are quick and dirty. The faster, the better.
JC: I just finished two fantasies, two literally, sweeping epics. Now I’m writing science fiction, so I find it easier to write to a word count goal. Still, I like to write quick and dirty, though.
AB: I write my first draft to tell me what the story’s about often. Anything goes at this stage and I use a strange font. It tends to free me up.
MP: Where do you start?
JC: If something is bothering me, I’ll deal with it right away. If it can be left until I edit, I leave myself a signal in the text. I use “OOO” so it’s sure to stand out.
AB: I used to be comfortable making notes outside the document, in a separate notebook. Now I write notes inside the document in different colours.
JC: My computer has defaulted to Canadian English and now I have to make a special pass just for that.
KA: As I write, I can flag what needs work. I use Scrivener.
MP: Are you harder on your work than an editor?
KA: Yes. I’m my own worst critic. Working with a great editor teaches you a lot, though.
JC: How do we know when to stop?
KA: When the publisher rips it away from you. We do the best we can in the time we have.
AB: I learn from the audio book version of my novels. Where do I need dialogue tags and where can I use an action beat or piece of description?
JC: I learn the most from my editor’s comments. Sheila doesn’t give me any praise, just notes of what to work on.
KA: If you’re critiquing, you have to be positive.
MP: You have to be careful not to crush spirits.
JC: You have to recognize the good in your work. It was a triumph when Sheila called me up in the middle of the night just to tell me she’d cried twice while reading my manuscript. Because she’s not big on praise, I knew I’d nailed it.
AB: You don’t want to edit the heart out of your story, either.
Q: What’s your editing process?
AB: I print it out, read through it, and make notes by hand.
KA: I put my first draft aside for at least two months while I work on something else. I print it out and mark everything up with a red pen from page one.
JC: I also print it out and edit my drafts by hand, but I like to edit in a separate place from where I drafted.
Q: What do you do about editorial comments you don’t agree with?
AB: My editors know I’m fragile. Most of the time, I can come around to seeing things their way, but it I can’t, I find I have to express why I think the scene or line is essential to the story. If I can offer a cogent explanation, the editors come around to seeing things my way.
KA: The majority of the editors I’ve worked with are great. I know them and what they want to see. We’ve developed a relationship. Some are dead wrong, though. You have to be willing to defend your work.
And that was time.
I learned a lot from these writerly women. I hope you did, too 🙂
My Next Chapter update and another Sundog snippet will have to wait on tomorrow. I have a retirement party to get ready for (!) Not mine (I wish), but two lovely ladies from the BEA hive at work. I’m the comic relief O.o