Thursday, December 20, 2007

Hard Yards

Finally finished the edits - that is: red pen all over the place on 376 pages of hard copy. Tomorrow, I get to correct the electronic version.

Now that I'm done with the paper, it got me to thinking about how I edit.

Most writers hate the editing phase. Some days, I'm not a fan either, even though I have the professional qualifications to do it. I don't know why. If the book is good enough, why worry about the small stuff?

And I think that's the fundamental problem. While we write, everything is perfect. We see with absolute clarity the characters and scenery and dialogue and... everything. But when the editing comes around, we have to take off those rose-coloured glasses and put on the executioner's hood. We cut and hack, slice and dice and remove what we thought brilliant at the time of writing; and we wonder what the hell we were thinking.

For me, if a book doesn't write well, I don't finish it; and that circumvents the need to edit. But when I've finished writing and set the tome aside, I come back and read through it with a fresh eye.

Most of the problems with Huntress are cosmetic: grammar, missing punctuation, a missing word here or there. I've only deleted a part of one scene and that's because no man has that kind of stamina. This book was, however, written for Nano 2003, and the aim then was the word count. Nothing boosts a word count like S.E.X. so, out that part goes.

There are more pages with corrections than not, but I should be done by tomorrow afternoon, and that makes me happy.

I may even give myself some of next week off, after I've done the story for Saturday and next Wednesday.

* * *
On another note, I was saddened to read on Sci Fi Weekly that Terry Pratchett has announced he's suffering from the early onset of Alzheimer's Disease.

I'm not a fan of his work, but I have heard him speak and he is as entertaining as he is erudite. He says he has time yet to write more books, but I can only say it is a tragedy to the sci-fi and fantasy genre to lose such a clever mind.

And yes, I have experience with this kind of disease; my father had it and there is nothing more cruel.

I'm not going to suddenly rush out and buy Terry Pratchett's books, as I said, I don't like them, but I know he has fans and they are legion. Maybe someone will come up with a cure in time to save him. We can only hope and pray.


Gabriele C. said...

My grandmother had it, too. :(

Your experience with first drafts is very different from mine. I seldom get the mental image onto page right the first time, I need to edit. Maybe that's why I edit every scene ere I tackle a new one - to have a result that does not make me squirm and consider giving up because my writing sucks anyway and all that.

Jason said...

I actually kinda like editing. For some reason, going through, finding my mistakes, rewriting scenes, it makes me feel great, like this thing will be even better when I'm done.

I read that, I'm so sad for him. My great-grandmother had it, and it's a horribly cruel disease.

You know, the fantasy writers have really taken a hit this year with Pratchet, L'Engle, and Robert Jordan...*sigh*

Jaye Patrick said...

G., you're writing doesn't suck; it's an apprenticeship like anything else and you will improve.

And Jason, you are absolutely right. Editing does make a difference.

As to the writers we've lost this year, it's a shame, but we have their work to aspire to.