Friday, June 16

My Editing Hell

I’ve been whining on Facebook about editing and how miserable it is… and I think I was a little unclear in my post. Editing is a vital part of the writing process, and editors are also essential to a quality product. I did not intend to malign either, and I greatly appreciate both.

What I was really addressing was a very narrowly-defined aspect of editing: the critique.

Some might correct me and declare that the critique is an entirely different animal, but I say that what I do to my story afterward—based upon the comments, corrections, and suggestions of the critique—is editing. And it is a very daunting, overwhelming, soul-searching, ego-bruising, career-questioning process.

Or maybe I’m just being melodramatic.

I can only speak from personal experience, but the post-critique editing process goes something like this:

Critique Comment: “Need more information about the setting.” “Why does your heroine care about this?” “So, she’s okay with turning into a mermaid, but this weirds her out?”

My Response: “Okay, I’m on a tight word count limit here, but I can work to make the setting details more clear.” “Good point. Let me see where I can shoe-horn in some character motivation somewhere.” “Sigh. I have a word limit. I can’t go on indefinitely about her turning into a mermaid… I have to keep the story going and this is—Hmmm…actually, maybe I could cross this part out and play up the mermaid thing. Okay, this is good.”

Critique Comment: “Why does she wonder if the hero could turn out to be a creep or ax-murderer? Seems odd.”

My Response: “Uh, wouldn’t it be even more odd if she accepted him without wondering what kind of man he is? Okay, I’ll take out the ax-murderer comment and just have her wonder about his moral compass in general.”

Critique Comment: “All these –ly adverbs are telling words. They need to go.”

My Response: Argh! Adverbs are perfectly acceptable parts of speech! *Deep breath* Okay, I’ll do a search and minimize them where I can. But I do have a word count I’m over at this point.”

Critique Comment: “This is telling. Need to show.” “This is telling; show instead.” “This is telling… try showing.” “Please show instead of tell.” “Telling”…

My Response: “Yeah, I see it’s a little telling. Will reword to be more showing, even though that will add more words and I’m already well-past my limit. But it will make my story stronger, which is good.” “Sigh. Um, yeah, I guess so. I’ll see if I can show with minimal increase in words.” “FINE! I CAN’T FIX EVERY—Oh, wait, I can change this one and save a few words doing it.” “ARGH! WHAT DOES IT MATTER—yeah, this is a bad one. I’ll re-work it.” “SONOFA—! *Bangs head on desk*”

Critique Comment: “I don’t get this part.”

My Response: “It’s a Star Wars reference. And it stays as is.”

Critique Comment: “So, I pretty much hate your hero. You’re going to have to re-work everything from here to the end.”

My Response: “Uuuuuhhhh….Okaaaaay…. *begins complete rewrite, going over the word count triple time. Halfway through, throws self on floor, curls into fetal position, and questions why I’m even trying because I clearly suck and should give it up.”

Critique Comment: “You know, this would be more effective if she turned into an underwater were-bear instead, and he was a sexy alpha nymph vampire with a rescue dog who can see into the future. The way it is right now it’s just not believable.”

My Response: *throws computer. Burns down house. Relocates to another state and assumes the name Ivana Spahnkit. Lives out the rest of life working at Walmart and reading nothing longer than a wine label.*

And that is why I hate editing.

8 comments:

  1. Okay, I'm snorting... This is so funny, and so shockingly accurate.

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    1. I'll admit that editing normally isn't this painful for me. The word count limit is really kicking my butt!

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  2. Sounds familiar. Everything makes perfect sense in my head so why can't others just see that!

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    1. Exactly! Can't they read my mind and just... *know*? ;-)

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  3. Oh, man, story editing is a totally different bird from copy editing--yeah, I hate that too. But if you can describe it so wonderfully and in such a delightful way, I don't have a moment's doubt you can handle whatever comes along. Oh, and it IS your story...remember that. :-)

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  4. Thanks!! You always know exactly what to say!

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  5. OMG! I feel your pain, Ava. And really, mermaids are so much more believable than were-bears with rescue dogs. Snort!

    I get you on the word count thing. I've done a few novellas for TWRP and it's really tough to say everything you need to say when you have a word limit. When a reviewer says "I wish it would have been longer" or some such thing, you just want to say, "Yeah, me too!" Good luck!

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  6. Lol. At least you have something completed to critique! Always a bright side.

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