Thursday, February 08, 2007

Editing

I'm not sure how many of you are interesting writing, either as a hobby (as it is with me), or as a casual observer (much as say, I take interest in someone who might collect the odd 1960's era Brazilian Pogs issued by the Oscar Myer Corporation), or quite possibly as a pie in the sky hope of one day doing it for a living (also me).

To have more blather, I thought I'd talk about my process. As an unpublished fiction writer. I realize that this is like a carpenter who has never been paid for his work, discussing his woodworking technique. While theoretically it may be correct, its most likely is complete rubbish.

But that's not going to stop me.

So right now I'm going through my final edit (I hope) of my first book. The entire book has gone through at least one revision/edit. Parts have gone through as many as four. The thing about revising and editing is that it's a completely different beast than writing. At least it is for me.

When you're writing, the old adage is "you're allowed to write crap", meaning that you should just pump out that first draft lickety split. Otherwise you procrastinate, take an avid interest in orchid cultivation, start blogging, and in other ways stop yourself from getting those words to hard-disk. So there is a certain freedom to it. You write the most horrid and awkward phrases. You just keep chugging along. You tell yourself, like the hollywood director who has just had a Honda Civic drive through his pastoral setting of 1895 England, "I'll get it in post".

The editing phase is for honing. There is no amateur hour here. You have to write as well (if you are talking genre fiction) as a Stephen King or Terry Brooks. Your lines have to be clean, your meaning clarified from it's current state of murky "coffee pot been sitting for 23 hours" to "something that one might consider drinking" to "as transparent as the Bottled Water cash grab Industry is". Characters have to materialize, plot has to move along, dialogue has to flow, descriptions have to sizzle. There is no net.

This is where the real craft is, I believe.

This is also where you can simply freeze, staring at your words, with no idea how better to rephrase the clunkiest sentence ever put to paper.

1 comment:

The Nighthawk said...

You need to edit this post to actually include your process. :P