Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Drowning in a sea of edits...

My current writing soundtrack: Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis

"The difference between the right word
and the almost right word
is the difference between
lightning and a lightning bug."

Mark Twain

This quote pretty much sums up my struggle with editing right now!

A single word can make a massive difference and I am laboring over every single word...

How can I say this in fewer words? How can I perfectly convey what I am trying to say? Am I in the right point of view? Are my tenses correct? Is that image vivid enough? Is the dialogue snappy enough?

I am drowning in a sea of 96,000 words!
So to guide me along the way, give me a framework within which to work, I bought some books about self-editing. Perhaps I can learn some new strokes that will help me keep my head above water and, maybe - just maybe - make it back to shore!


I'm also taking a plotting class called "The 'W' plot" at Hearts Through History Romance Writers.
Have you read these books? Were they helpful? Taken the class? What do you do to tame the self-editing beast?


Chiron said...

For me, getting feedback from others is essential. After a few years, I finally found a group of crit partners who find (and point out) everything I miss.

One helps with the right word, while another might point out how sentences (or paragraphs) can be rearranged for maximum impact. Sometimes they shake their heads in puzzlement and I realize that even though I knew what I meant, the writing didn't reflect my intent. So for me, I would come to a standstill without outside perspective.

Second, I remind myself paragraph by paragraph that I can do a complete rewrite if necessary. (Please though, not the whole damn book!! *snort*)

One thing I do is if a paragraph isn't working is simply push it down, think hard and rewrite the whole thing. Then I compare the two. Sometimes I find that I can't keep painting over something, I need to scrape it off and start fresh.

Lastly, I keep in mind that my writing "muscles" will improve, the more I write. I keep "lifting those weights" and trust that each repetition will strengthen my writing AND help me *see* more clearly.

Every book is written (and rewritten) one page at a time... *grin*

Smiles to you,

Tiffany James said...


Thanks for all of the helpful hints!

It's so scary for me to share my work. I need to remind myself that it's OK - a necessary part of the process. And yes, sometimes it's best to just start a paragraph or page from scratch.

I have really learned the past few weeks how important it is to just write! Anything...you summed it up perfectly: "lifting those weights" by writing!

Thanks for help and encouragement!

Tiff :0)

Helen Hardt said...

Hi Tiffany. I haven't read any of the books you mentioned, but I have taken Karen's W plot and it is quite helpful. And you're not alone -- my first romance ms was 103,000 words. After two revisions, it's now 91K. And it has another revision in store. Now, though, after learning some of the rules, I write much cleaner in my first draft, which makes revising a much less daunting prospect. Here are a few hints for you:

1. About 90% of adverbs can be cut without changing the meaning of the sentence. Another 5% can be cut by finding a more precise verb or adjective. That leaves 5%, and those are the ones you need.

2. Cut out telling words, like "she felt," "she saw," "he heard," "it seemed to." Instead of telling, immerse your reader by showing the action.

3. Cut out tags when you can. A beat is usually more effective. When you must use tags, keep it simple. Use "said." The reader is subliminally trained to skip over it. Don't stop her up with tags like "criticized," "continued," "warned," etc. It should be clear from your dialogue if the character is criticizing or warning.

4. Really analyze your first few chapters. New writers tend to use too much backstory and narrative. I was the queen of this, LOL. Get right to the meat of your tale. Backstory can be sprinkled in later. It's hard to kill your darlings, but be brutal. Your story will be better for it.

Hope you find these hints helpful. They helped me immensely with my first attempts at revision. And it is scary to share your work. But you'll learn a ton from it. I know I have. Everyone who reads it will see it a little bit differently. Good luck!


Tiffany James said...


Awesome pointers! Thank you so much.

It is hard to make changes to our "babies" but I'm beginning to see that it must be done... *sigh*

Tiffany :0)

Kristi said...

Hey Tiffany! thanks for stopping by the blog today ... come back often, I get lonely! :)

To stop the self-editing I usually just stop. Seriously. I send it off to my wonderful CPs and stop going over and over that particular scene/chapter, etc. Put it away until I get some feedback. Otherwise I find that I edit and edit and edit and never accomplish anything.

Tiffany James said...


I hear ya'...I think I've edited this one to death. And now I just don't like it at all. But I'm a perfectionist. I'm going to have to find a way to let that go.

Thanks for stopping by with your wise words. :0)