Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Joy of Editing (cont'd)

All right, maybe that was a bit of an exaggeration. On the whole, I  really enjoy editing. I love reading through a draft the first time and coming across bits that are particularly good, or coming across something that unintentionally relates so perfectly to a scene earlier on. There's also something extremely cathartic about crossing out passages, changing wording and finding stupid typos, so for me editing is actually pretty relaxing.

Today I was sitting in a coffee shop (Yes, unfortunately the Chapters/Starbucks kind) and worked through one lengthy chapter with J (whose name and relationship will remain unstated). Now, doing edits with him is a very interesting experience and requires a pre-editing warm-up on my part. The first step is to turn off my ego, and let go of any attachment that I have to what's written on the page. The second part is to turn off any defensiveness that might otherwise arise. Because he will tear it to pieces. Itty bitty pieces. Often to the point where I will begin to throw things. Well, I haven't yet, but I've been sorely tempted.

The truth, though, is that I'm just being a big sour baby, because I really do need J's logical thinking. He will read a scene and his analysis will be something like, "This comment is out of character for Jack. And you say one beer here, but two pages ago you said three. And if this part here were to really happen, this is the result you could logically expect, not what you have here. This is just silly." And that would all be about one sentence.

Usually my first instinct is to gladly thank him for the plot inconsistency, grit my teeth and admit to the character inconsistency, and remain sullenly silent for the "real-life outcome" consistency. After all, people, this is FICTION we're talking about, right?! But then, after a few hours of cooling off I'm usually able to come back to it and go, "Okay, I guess he's right. It doesn't really make sense for the Earth-conquering aliens to stop for a picnic and enjoy the view at Niagara Falls." (I will explain the aliens in a later entry) So in the end I know it's worth feeling low in the interim for quality's sake in the end. But it's still a pain in the butt.

Editing, for these reasons, can be a painful process. I love copy-editing (spelling, grammar, etc.), but I hate re-writing. I find it boring, because I've already written the scene, and I'm sad that I'm losing a scene I worked hard on and in many ways really loved. Then I worry that the new one isn't actually better than the old, so I start to doubt, and waver, and go back and forth and....yeah. However, I do recognize it as an important feature of completing a manuscript, so I guess that means I keep going and allow J to take a stab at Chapter 5 :P.

Today I received Q&A answers from one of the authors I'm promoting here!!! I should be posting it tomorrow - a brief interview with new author C.J. Duarte. Please come and read it!

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