Tuesday, May 12, 2009

An Ode to Editing

This post was sparked by a comment Alexis Grant made a few days ago, in which she said that she, too, loved editing.

I don't hear that from too many people.

In fact, what I hear most of the time is how much people HATE editing. But I don't, I adore it. There are times when I think I like it better than the actual writing.

The truth is, I'm really more of a words person than I am an ideas person, so getting the story down on paper in the first place can sometimes be a pretty big struggle for me. But give me pages and pages of prose that need to be polished up (and cleaned of unnecessary alliteration), and I get all excited. It's like sculpting to me. I can take this mass of verbiage that has "potential" and reshape into something that's actually fun to read.

I enjoy tinkering with words and experimenting with turns of phrase. I love to take a clunky scene, figure out what's wrong with it, and turn it into a valuable part of the story.

On a grander scale, I have learned that I really do have the power to completely rework a novel if I have to. When I was writing my last novel, I got to a point where I realized the beginning was much to slow and I needed to bring the actual mystery forward more. To make such drastic revisions, I printed out the pages and cut apart all the sections so I could try them in various configurations. When I found the one that worked, I taped all the sections back together and used that as a template while I reworked the MS file.

It was a blast - when I was done, I felt like I was on top of the world.


Galen Kindley said...

I’ll agree, and draw a distinction.

Yep, re-crafting what I’ve done is, indeed, lots of fun. It’s kinda like building blocks or tinker toys…showing my age with those analogies, huh? Anyway, you start with sorta something, and end up with, hopefully, something way better.

Now, copy editing. Yuk. Not very good at it. In fact, terrible. I was the kid listing to the World Series on the clunky transistor radio hidden in my shirt, or throwing spitballs at the “smart girl” in the corner during sentence diagramming and the explanation of the difference between adverbs and whatever else is out there in the English lexicon.

Still don’t know the difference, still would rather listen to the World Series. Would now probably forego the spitballs…maybe.


Karen Walker said...

You are a very lucky lady. I don't mind re-working a manuscript to make it better, but I don't like copy editing. Grammar was never my strong suit, and still isn't. I need good editors around me at all times.


Elle Parker said...

See, now I even like copy editing. That is sort of like doing a crossword puzzle to me: Let's see....what's a word for grasp that I haven't already used on this page...?

Galen - I adore the image of you shooting spitballs!

Karen - I'm lucky that I have a fantastic editor who is a dream to work with. She really knows her stuff


Alexis Grant said...

Yippee! Another edit lover! I enjoy not only re-crafting, but also line editing and grammar. And yes, I enjoy editing more than the writing itself, which is becoming more apparent to me as I write this book. (Which makes me wonder whether I'll write another.) But that's the point -- It's a learning process.

Glad to know I'm in good company :)

Patricia Stoltey said...

Me, too. I love the revising and editing part of the process. Maybe it's because I have a whole manuscript to work with, or maybe it's the challenge of finding my habit words and memory/info dumps and stiff dialogue. It's like a treasure hunt and a crossword puzzle lumped into one task.


Gayle Carline said...

I like the editing, too, Elle. I think of it as surgery - for the Bionic Book. "We can rebuild it, we can make it stronger."


Jina Bacarr said...

"I hate writing. I love having written."
--Dorothy Parker.

I love this quote. It says it all.