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Is there such a thing as over-editing? June 9, 2011

Posted by pacejmiller in Novel, On Writing, Study.
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1 comment so far

The last week or so I had been desperately trying to get my manuscript into shape (or at least the part of it that I had to prepare for submission).

I had already touched on how difficult it is to edit your own work in a previous post, but what I have realised lately is that there comes a time when you just don’t know whether further editing is beneficial or detrimental to your work anymore!

Of course, I’m not talking about copyediting — what I am referring to is more substantial edits and rewrites.

My supervisor had given me a number of high level suggestions to improve my work, which required a lot of thought, a bit of deletion and more addition.  So I went ahead and tried to implement the suggestions while also attempting to fix the narrative on a sentence by sentence level.  Of course, I was reading everything out (a huge help), though it did give me a sore throat by the end of the day.

Anyway, it got to a point where I had done perhaps 5, 8 or even 10 drafts of individual chapters, and to be honest I couldn’t tell if the newer versions were any better than the older ones.  I was afraid I had deleted quality stuff and added stuff that didn’t improve the story.  Just how do you know, when everything starts to look the same and all versions start blurring into one?

It was something I discussed in class the other day, and as it turned out, fear of over-editing was a common occurrence, even for experienced writers.  The recommendation was to put the work aside to sit for a while, go do something else, take your mind off it, and when you’re ready, come back to it and read it again with fresher eyes.  And if you are game, showing the different versions to friends for comment would also be very helpful.

The most important thing to remember, of course, is to keep track of all your different versions and don’t save or write over them so if an older version is indeed better or there are deletions you want to reinsert you’ll have access to them.

Editing Your Own Work Is Hard Work! May 25, 2011

Posted by pacejmiller in Misc, Novel, On Writing, Study.
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2 comments

I’m up to the stage where I have just completed what is essentially a first draft of my masters project novel.  It’s not the whole novel but at 25,000 words it’s already substantially longer than what it needs to be for the purposes of the course (which I think is 15,000).

I am meeting my supervisor again shortly, and as usual, I am sure there will be more amazing suggestions and insights forthcoming.  The task now is to try and shape this first draft into something awesome.

Easier said than done.

I don’t mind editing my own work, not when it’s just copyediting — ie, fix the typos, the spelling, the grammar, etc — but when it comes to major overhauls and structural changes, I just want to bury my head in the sand and hope it miraculously fixes itself.

To me, editing your own work is the hardest part of writing.  Unfortunately it’s something that has to be done.  There are no magic bullets.  Just need to keep trying different things, testing various styles and combinations, and persevering until I get it right.  Well, either that or until the deadline, which is only a couple of weeks away.

Eek.  After that maybe I can get a real editor.

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