Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Oh, Brave New Word

By Martha Reed

Because editing a full manuscript is still new to me, I’m going to continue to chronicle my further adventures with it as I explore this brave new world.

I want to do this for those writers who may be following a bit behind me in the process because I have learned that the further I go into this new editing world, the further I explore what going to this new depth means to me, the more amazing the writing becomes. Editing is forcing me to both step back and take a good hard look at what I’ve already written while forcing me to focus in closer on it (if that’s not a contradiction).

Let me give you a for instance.

In the early chapters I seem to be trimming out a lot of unnecessary back story that I needed to write down in my newbie manuscript just so I could figure out where my characters were and what they were doing. Now that I know the ending, I can go back to these early pages and a) eliminate the back story but also b) take a moment to reexamine what is happening at that moment in the storyline to see if it still holds up.

My Ah-ha! Moment happened on Saturday when I took another look at a character who was making a phone call and realized that in my earliest version I had him calling the wrong person. Now that I know ‘who done it’ I realized that he wouldn’t have called him, he would have called her. That realization upset the whole applecart until I revised it in the mss and then realized the full implications of that call. If he called her, it changed the lines of communication and tightened up an entire sub-plot in one fell swoop. Editing at its best!

Of course, the hardest part is to have to ‘kill your darlings’. Last weekend I had to delete one entire unnecessary character since she was occupying a page and a half of text the story didn’t really need. (Sorry, Elsbeth! I promise to use you somewhere else in another story soon!) The scary part is hitting a chapter that basically just needs to be overhauled in its entirety but the upside is that I can already see how the revision will improve the overall story and baby, that’s just the way it’s got to be.

5 comments:

Gina said...

Poor Elsbeth! Martha, I sympathize.

Joyce said...

To me, this is the real writing part. I love doing revisions. Playing with words, filling in the blanks, layering in more emotion. Much more fun than first drafts!

Laurie said...

Martha, congratulations on completing your full manuscript!

It sounds like you're really enjoying the editing process except for having to do away with Elsbeth. :-)

Martha Reed said...

Thanks, everyone. Actually I'm having a hard time staying in the 'real world' lately. All I want to do is dive back in and edit! I'm going to root to this chair...

Annette said...

Go Martha. Go Martha. Go Martha!