Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Manuscript Massacre and Why Editing is Like Piano Practice

I apologize for the absence the last couple weeks. I have been rather absorbed in the task of hacking my manuscript to bits and pieces.

It is a bit odd. I hated editing my last manuscript. Every time I had to cut out a clip of dialogue or a good description I would wince. No. I worked hard to make that. You can't just take it OUT.

"I can" my inner editor would reply "if it isn't helping the story."

Pout. Sulk. Threaten to use even more run on sentences and "ing" words. Finally relent and click delete.

But this time I've only been editing a couple of weeks and I've already cut out three whole scenes. And you know what? I don't miss them. Not a whit. They weren't bad but they were unneeded and bogged down the plot. I'm feeling rather ruthless with my words right now. Half the scenes I've kept in so far have been paired down quite a bit.

Slash. Stab. Parry. Watch the ink drip in little black blobs on the bottom of the page. The extra words fall away for stronger prose, better emphasis to the important parts of the story.

For me having a finished draft is a bit like struggling through a piece of sheet music for the first time. Yeah you have an idea of where your fingers have to go and where the difficult chords are but the piece is far from learned. And any good music teacher will tell you that playing it over and over straight through won't do you much good. You have to take it a few measures at a time, zone in on the trouble spots, and really learn the music phrase by phrase, before you can smooth it out as a finished piece.

So that's what I've been attempting. It's slow progress but progress. I can't wait to see it all fit together.

What is your editing process like?


  1. Word murderer!!

    I clear my conscience by putting all my cut stuff in a separate saved file. Kind of like a tomb I suppose. I hate that feeling of having cut something only to realize later it really did need to be there. Though that's rarely the case. Dead is dead...usually.

  2. Mine is much like yours. Congrats on getting to the point where you can kill your darlings.

  3. You're suppose to edit? Hmm. That could be one of my problems. Just kidding!. I hew and hack and slam a lot of things around. Then I take a walk and rewrite in my head.

    Good luck with the WIP.

    Stopped in to say hi from the good ole A to Z Blogging Challenge.

  4. Taryn, I wish someone had told me before that editing is so much harder to then the actual writing part. It can be a bit heart breaking at times But, I find that the more I love a story, the more critical i am and as long as the story keeps getting better, it is worth it.