Monday, February 22, 2010

Editing

Good morning all. I say good morning but it is far from it weather wise. It has been consistently bucketing it down for over fours hours. The kind of freezing rain that makes you dream of holidays in warmer climates. I’ve already been evacuated from my building twice due to power cuts.
Anyway, enough with the mundane weather issues. We are nearly at the end of February which means I can end my self-imposed exile from the Ritual of the Stones and begin editing with a fresh perspective.
As you might know, one of the things that always discouraged me from writing a novel was I hated the editing process. I was never very good at going over what I had written. Whether it was essays at University, this blog or even simple emails at work (the latter I’m still notoriously bad at checking).
I don’t know why this is, but I have always been of the attitude: once it is written, than as far as my brain is concerned, it is done. I’m no longer interested in looking at it, or polishing it.
You see, I find it hard to change my work. Every time I think to myself, “well that can come out,” another voice opposes the first and sees why I included the phrase in the first place.
I recognised this attitude would not be good enough if I was to write a novel. So it has been with some trepidation that I have been approaching this stage of the process.
So what I have been doing to overcome this vice of mine I hear you ask? Research, research, research. I have read a lot of material on the editing process. I submitted some short stories to critters and learned how others edit.
Having done this research, I don’t pretend to be the world’s best editor by any stretch of the imagination. But at least I have now giving myself a fighting chance as making my novel the best it can be.
I edited the aforementioned two short stories last week. There were two things that surprised me: (If there was a theme for this post it would be the number 2 it would appear!!).
1) How much I enjoyed the process. I didn’t think anything of chopping the first and last third of the story. I liked the writing but the strength of the story was in the middle. That is where the story is told and so that was all that was relevant. The story is now infinitely stronger for being shorter and punchier. I also loved eliminating all those needless words: “That” and “Just.” When I was writing the first draft of these stories I was conscious of the fact these words creep into the text but I was still shocked how many there were.
2) I have actually improved as a writer. The first story I wrote after only a month of starting RotS. The second story I wrote in one session just before Christmas. The difference in quality was staggering. It just goes to show that practice does make perfect.

So having edited the stories, the next step is to send them off to a magazine. I have spent the last couple of days, researching magazines and checking their submission guidelines. I have also bought the magazines to see if they are suitable for my stories and have invested in the “Novel and short stories writers agency” (Please note the title could be wrong as I don’t have it next to me.) Although sadly a lot of the magazines listed are now out of date, the advice in there is great.
The aim is to produce a cover letter by the end of tomorrow and then send off the stories by the end of the week.

Roll on the rejections.