I’m officially an editor! Yay!
Now that I have that bit of good news out of the way, on with the post.
Between the new job, revising my WIP, and critiquing work for others, editing has been on my mind a lot lately. I feel like I’m learning more every day from online resources, other writers, and this cool book Self-Editing for Fiction Writers. I’m only in the second chapter, but I’ve already learned a lot that I’m using as I revise and rewrite. The book is packed with information, and it’s presented in such a way that it’s not intimidating. When I start thinking about my writing with this information in mind, however, I can get pretty intimidated. My goal is to use one piece of information at a time, like turning narrative summary into scenes, and go through the manuscript with that in mind. Once I’m done with that, I’ll move on to something else. Of course, that doesn’t prevent me from catching other things while I’m focused on that one idea. Yesterday, as I went through a chapter looking for a particular piece of dialogue, I found a VERY passive sentence. I have no idea how I missed it all the other times I’ve gone over that chapter. I literally cringed when I saw it. Thirty seconds later, I’d rewritten it as an active sentence and went on with my original goal.
This is not an uncommon occurrence in my rewrite process. I’ll be working on one thing and end up taking a quick break from that to fix something entirely different. I’m sure others have their own process. Every writer has their own way of doing things, from the actual writing to the revision process. I’ve talked to authors who would be lost without their detailed outlines; my creativity is stifled with an outline. I’m definitely a “seat of the pants” writer, which means I may or may not have a clue where the story is going. Even if I have a vague idea when I start writing of where the story will end, that’s liable to change before I’m halfway through the first draft. As I get to know my characters better, my plan for them doesn’t always work with their personalities. That’s why outlines drive me nuts. If I had to stick to an outline, I could probably do it. The story wouldn’t be as good as if I’d written it in my usual manner, but it would be complete.
This is why each writer needs to find their own way of doing things. Just like a favorite pair of blue jeans, one size does not fit all. There are as many ways to write as there are writers. Find what works for you and go for it.