As I mentioned in my previous post, I feel like editing a short story or a novel is a long, grueling process. Any kind of editing can exhaust you to the point where you just feel like giving up.
I can’t even begin to tell you how much more of my energy and time goes into the editing process. For the past few days, I have been working on the re-write of my second novel “The Article” (Working Title). I have only managed to edit/re-write six chapters though. I spend so much of my time going over each paragraph wondering if I’m letting my readers see enough of the story without forcing it on them. I don’t want to beat them over the head with redundant wording or too much details. Then on the other hand, I don’t want them lacking details on setting or on the feelings of my main character.
I am also changing the entire novel from third person point of view to first. It’s almost like a psychological thriller, and I want my readers in the heads of either the 4 main characters or just the one. (I can’t even decide how many points of views I want in this novel, and I am driving myself crazy with trying to decide.) Anyways, third person just wasn’t working for me. I believe that this story needs to be felt instead of merely just read like all good books, but I felt like first person would help get that across better in this particular instance.
Too, I’ve been working on the dialogue. I needed to freshen it up. Make people actually talk like Southerns but not rednecks. I noticed in my read-back that I had written everything too formal. Being from Mississippi, I know how we Southerns like to leave off the letter ‘g’ at the end of words: such as walkin’ instead of walking. So now, I feel like I’m writing an entire novel without the letter ‘g’, but it’s how we talk. I’m guilty of it myself, so I had to go back and change some of the words in my dialogue. I just didn’t want my people sounding too formal. I, mean, most people don’t talk like this : “I believe that I would like to go to the lake and fish today.” Instead, here, we’d say: “I’m probly goin’ fishin’ today.” Since my novel takes place in Mississippi, I had to fix all of this.
Although making the dialogue sound real is important, it’s also important not to give too much away in dialogue, but giving too little isn’t good enough either. So, there’s this whole balance you have to find and decide for yourself if it’s good enough or not. How do you know if it’s good enough? How much is too much? I don’t know, honestly. I guess you just have to have a gut feeling about it. When I go back over my stuff to edit it, I just know what sounds good and what doesn’t. It also helps to have other people read it and tell you what they think. If you have a writer friend or someone who likes to read then they can be very helpful in telling you what sounds good and what doesn’t. Reading out loud is a good trick too although I feel silly doing it. It does help though.
I’ve also been working on rewording confusing sentences and checking my grammar. I want to make sure that I sound competent, and I don’t want people reading my stuff and saying, “Oh my. I can’t believe she thinks that’s the way to write and capture an audience.” I want to write likeable and memorable stuff.
I’m also making sure that I’m not using filter words such as: seems and felt. Here is the perfect article for reading about filter words.
When I was in college, taking a fiction writing workshop class, I was taught about these words and used them like crazy through my stories. It’s important not to use them because it detracts from the story. You can’t “see” the world around because it’s being filtered. You’re being told how to feel instead of feeling it yourself or being told what you see instead of seeing it yourself.
There’s a lot to look out for when editing. These are just the tip of iceberg in the editing process. I know that there are editors out there for people, but in my opinion, I like the self-editing option. I want my work to be the best it can before I send it out to anyone else for consideration. So, I will go through this long, arduous task in order to write the best that I can.
What have you learned through editing and how important it is?