Friday, September 07, 2012

The Editing Process: Give It Time

Over the past few weeks, I've been editing a manuscript that has been sitting idle for the past year.  Yes, you heard that right.  One whole year...that's how long I've been procrastinating on this process.

Why?  Well, let's say that editing takes a lot out of me.  It's a different story when I get back notes and suggestions from the editor at a publisher, as I have done with my first two erotic romances.  Then, I've been able to step back and neutrally assess the suggestions and I have generally found them to be right on the dot.

But editing myself is a whole different endeavour.  Let's face it, we think what we write is pretty darn good.  Not stellar, perhaps, but usually passable.  Right after I've written something, I might indeed think it is stellar.

What's the solution to being unable to see your own flaws and mistakes?  Like good wine, a story needs time to mature.

After some time (many experts suggest a month or so but I don't think anyone has ever suggested a whole year), you gain perspective on your writing.  The key first step to editing a manuscript is being able to read the piece again as a reader.  Very difficult, if you've written the thing!

After a year languishing in my computer, my manuscript has seemed like a new novel.  I don't remember most of what I wrote and I certainly didn't remember the plot details, which I am now scrutinizing very closely (and finding holes!).  Reading my manuscript after that gap of time has allowed me to gain precious objectivity which I would not have possessed had I started editing it immediately, or perhaps even the usual month later.

Most writers don't have the leisure of a year to park a story.  Deadlines and other pressing matters force them to pick it back up quickly.  I suggest giving yourself as much time as you can to be away from your writing.  Take a break.  Start on your next piece.  Let your story breathe a little.

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