Editing

I tend to scribble a lot

I have been editing my second novel, Quicksand. I originally drafted it during NaNoWriMo 2009, and I set it aside for quite a long time before looking at it. On the one hand, this was helpful because it gave me quite a lot of distance, so I was able to review it with fresh eyes and perhaps more impartiality. Some observations I have about my writing:

  • I really need to work on pacing. I fly through scenes at breakneck speed with no leisurely look around.
  • I’m equally ambiguous as to how much time has passed, and that might be confusing for the reader.
  • I can write dialogue fairly well, but it tends to drive my stories, and perhaps I need to flesh out scenes around dialogue better, cf. first bullet point.

I downloaded a Mac writing program called Scrivener on a trial basis to see if it helps me with some of the weaknesses I need to shore up. I haven’t tried the program yet, but what I really like is that the 30-day trial is a true 30-day trial: if I use it tomorrow and then don’t open it again for a week, those two days count as two days, not seven. That’s pretty awesome of them. Most software trials have a clock running whether you use it each day of the trial or not. I also like the education discount they offer.

On a completely related note, editing is so so so much harder than writing a first draft. I want to tear out my hair and cry when I think about how much work I need to do on this draft. Another related observation: reading as much as I have over the past couple of years is really helping me figure out what I need to do better as a writer. Models are the best teachers.

photo credit: Unhindered by Talent

4 thoughts on “Editing

  1. I must be doing writing wrong. I have never found editing a draft to be harder than writing a draft. Writing a draft is like sweating bullets most of the time. Once I have a written draft in front of me, I can make a list and deal with the problems one by one. Editing a draft is like dessert by comparison — it's so structured! so comparatively easy! — and makes me disinclined to ever write a first draft again. (Until, alas, I remember that pesky problem that you can't edit a first draft without writing one first.)

    1. No right or wrong way, I don't think. I find editing painful when it's fiction I'm writing, but it's much easier if it's academic writing or blogging or something like that.

  2. I think you have some great insights into the issues that you need to work on. And I think it was smart to put it aside for awhile to get some distance and then come back with fresh eyes. I've always wanted to try and write a book but lack discipline to do it. Maybe I should try this NaNoWriMo. It seems to work!!

    1. Thanks Jenners. Weird thing happened today: I read a review of my first novel over at Goodreads, and they identified the same problem with that one. It's frustrating on the one hand because now I feel sort of deflated. It's one thing for you to point out your own faults. It's another thing when someone else does, and you know they're right. Anyway, I am working on it with the second one, and I do think it's a better novel all the way around. NaNoWriMo is fun, hard work, and great for trying out writing, I think I say go for it.

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