This is the relationship of me and my novel as it undergoes revision. Some writers love editing and others loath its existence. More often that not, it's a love/hate relationship. I happen to fall more on the loving side but there are days...oh yes, there are days...
Everyone has their own writing style and its crazy to think that editing would be any different. But I know what works for me and I hope that maybe some of these things will work for someone else out there. So, Novel, we need to talk...
- I think we need to start seeing other people...After you finish your novel, take a break from it for a couple of months to get a better perspective. Work on something else or give your imagination time to rejuvenate. When you come back to it, you will be more attune to what's working and what isn't. Start by cutting out all that junk that isn't serving a purpose or is just you becoming enthralled with your own story world. It's easy to write at length about the medicinal properties of the fuchsia pink Imaginaryawesomeroot that you created, but unless your character is going to need this later when they get seriously injured, or they just really love botany and it gives insight into their character, then you probably don't need it. Don't be afraid to cut out big chunks. I'm talking scenes, even characters. Save the old drafts, that way if it doesn't work out you can always add them back in later.
- You never shut up! Pay attention to the dialogue and cut out unnecessary dialogue tags. Do you have to say that Frank snarled at Bob? Or Bob thundered back at Frank? If they're angry, then show it more through the details, scene, or even the dialogue itself rather than through the dialogue tags. Usually "said" and "ask" work just fine.
- I don't understand you. You know your characters better than anyone. So this will be hard. But try to read with a discerning mind and see if there are any places where you've accidentally written your characters to be inconsistent with themselves.
- We just do the exact same thing every single day. Are all your sentences the same kind of structure? Do they all start in the same way or is the length the same? Mix things up and make things interesting!
- We need to be more open with one another...If you're brave you can give others your novel to read. But in doing so be prepared for the criticism that could potentially follow along with the helpful bits of advice. Workshops are awesome for this part of editing because at some point you stop catching your own mistakes. You may think Susie's backstory is crystal clear but one of your peers may be confused about it.
- I still love you...Even though editing can be hard, in the end it's worth it. Whether it takes three drafts or thirty, three months or three years, editing is a vital part of the writing process.You'll discover a new appreciation for your own writing and you'll also feel good about the way your novel turned out. So good that you'll want to submit it everywhere for publication! And why shouldn't you? Your novel isn't reaching its full potential until it reaches someone else's hands.