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.


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

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

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

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

  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. :-)

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

  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!

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