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I hope everyone enjoyed having that extra day in February yesterday. But now it's March, and we're back in normal calendar territory.
Since I've been eyeball deep in edits for SAVING SCOTT this week, I thought I'd "borrow" some bits and pieces from older posts I've done on edits and revisions.
The writing process goes through countless phases. There's the initial writing—whether you're plotting things out in advance, flying by the seat of your pants into the mist, or a combination. Eventually, you'll get to "The End."
You've edited, polished, rewritten, repolished. You've checked for all those pesky weak verbs, overused words. You've passed it by your critique groups, your first reader, and asked your dog what he thinks.
At some point, your words are going to need professional eyes. Whether it's an agent trying to get your work sold, the editor your publisher assigns, or a freelance editor you hire yourself, you need someone who's not blinded by being too close to the work.
So, you ship it off, and it comes back dripping red ink. What next?
Edits are easy—or at least they're obvious. A word is misspelled, your point of view might be shaky, or your transitions are weak. Maybe your character started the day in slacks but ended up in a skirt. Or ate dinner twice. Or in Chapter 8 you made a huge point that she didn't own a cell phone because she thought it would fry her brain, but in Chapter 28, the cops are looking at her cell phone records. Fixing those sorts of problems is straightforward, and rarely requires more than some mechanics.
The tough part is dealing with revisions. Now you're in uncharted territory. You don't get those little squiggly lines on your manuscript. What if your editor says she wants your character to be more kooky? There's no Search and Replace for "kookiness."
Revisions come from comments such as, "You dropped this thread too soon," or, "You need to show more of such and so." But it's kind of like trying to add the chocolate chips AFTER you've baked the cookies. Adding something to Chapter 1 can have an impact on things all the way through 'the end.' Is it better to throw out the imperfect batch of cookies and bake new ones, or melt the chips and use them to frost the original batch?
No, now comes the time when you have to grit your teeth and think about tossing what you've already written (saving it in another file, of course) and rewriting those scenes virtually from scratch. You've got to have confidence that your writing is strong enough to start over, not try to patch what's already on the page. Because in all likelihood, those patches are going to show in the finished product.
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