I’ve been editing for the past week on the manuscript I finished for NaNoWriMo 2019. More specifically, structural (sometimes known as developmental) editing. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, it is an editing phase that looks at a manuscript, fiction and non-fiction, as a whole.
For fiction, it’s making sure that things like the plot, themes, characterisation and overall narrative work well together to deliver a good story.
When a writer wants to publish his manuscript via self-publish or the traditional route, they’ll most likely hire a professional editor, which I did with my first book ‘Lakeside’.
However I knew that if I sent the first draft of ‘Lakeside’ to a professional editor, they’d probably, no scratch that, they’d definitely cringe, laugh, vomit, probably at the same time, after reading the first page.
So to hopefully reduce that from happening, before I sent it off, I self-edited for years and sent my chapters to beta readers. I’m so glad I went with this approach because after all the rewrites I did, my first draft was completely different to the book it is today.
Most writers I know or read about don’t like editing and I can understand why. It’s a long, gruelling process that is emotionally draining to the writer’s soul. I’ve been there. In fact I still go there with all my current work-in-progress (WIP) because I love writing damn it and there’s always a price to pay.
I actually enjoy the editing process.
There I said it. Come at me!
Yeah it has its downsides and yes, there are days, weeks and even months when editing can be a nightmare. At times it can feel harder than the actual writing itself, but some of the best feelings I’ve had when writing a story is during the editing stage.
I remember when I started writing, I hated editing, but I knew it had to be done. I’d trim, reword, add, delete, and sift through so much garbage, doing my best to salvage the treasure I hope to find.
I’ve had moments when nothing seemed to be going right, especially after the umpteenth draft and I just wanted to do away with whatever WIP I was working on.
One plot hole could unravel everything, one character or dialogue could ruin a scene, one word doesn’t feel right and I would spend minutes trying to figure it out, wondering if I’ll ever get this story to make sense.
When I finally reached this point and I still couldn’t figure out what to do, I took a break. I felt I needed the distance. So I went months not working on ‘Lakeside’, allowing me to come back to it with a new perspective. When I began rewriting again, slowly, something amazing would start to happen.
The story took pity on me and revealed itself.
Pieces and plots that were once disjointed became connected. Character arcs that felt weak made sense and more themes began to emerge. A light appeared at the end of the tunnel. The story started to thrive and I realised the magic and joy of editing.
So if you’re writing a story or had written one, remember that you didn’t just write that, but you edited it as well. You created that story.
And no one can take that away from you.
Thank you to those who read this post. It means a lot to me. I’d like to mention again that what I write about is simply a reflection of my own personal experiences.
By sharing my thoughts about the things that have motivated and inspired me as well as the people in my life, I’m hoping I could motivate and inspire others. I’m aware that everyone’s situation is different and if what you are doing works for you, I’m really glad. Please continue doing what you’re doing.