Sunday, April 18, 2010

Adventures in Editing

This past week I've been working hard on editing Catching Moondrops, and even though this is my third time around with editing, I'm still learning. But I suppose that's the way everything is... there's always something new to learn no matter what we're up to.

But there's one thing I'd already learned in the past that I've had to employ yet again this time around: Be willing to cut. In my writing career there have been plenty of scenes, and even characters, that I've written and then ended up leaving behind at some point, knowing full well that the integrity of the plot would be improved by doing so.

And it can be tough! When I write something in the first place there's usually a good reason for it, so it's hard to just scrap the idea. Not to mention the fact that I've spent time working on it, and it's never fun to just get rid of something I once spent an hour or more creating.

Then again, it's tougher to watch the novel suffer due to self-indulgence. Maybe I wanted to see a particular event or conversation take place, but ultimately it's the overall project that I'm most concerned about. I figure I'd rather throw some of these things to the cutting floor if it means a better book in the end.

So if you're working on something, don't be afraid to do some trimming when necessary. Always look at the big picture, not just one narrow angle. It may hurt to say goodbye, but in the end you'll be glad you did.

  • Completely off the subject, I'm excited to announce that Fireflies in December is a finalist for general fiction in the Retailers Choice Awards. I'm incredibly honored by the nomination! Winners will be announced later this week.


Lori Stanley Roeleveld said...

Praying for Fireflies to find its rightful way to the top this week!

Mrs. D. said...

The act of editing our own material is definitely of a personal nature. Throwing our own words away almost seems like we're wasting something. However, it is so necessary. I remember the horror on my student's faces if I would suggest tossing out a paragraph. Sometimes improvement cannot take place unless we delete.

Rosslyn Elliott said...

Hi Jennifer,
I'm glad Wendy Miller mentioned your blog! I enjoyed this post. I'm in the thick of cutting and revising the second novel for my contract, so I know exactly what you mean. Just a couple of days ago my critique partner and I were laughing at my attempt to preserve a scene that obviously no longer worked. :-) It's hard to let go!

Jennifer Valent said...

Lori, thanks as always! Your prayer means so much to me!

Mrs. D, it's no fun, but you're right - so necessary. Editing is under-appreciated!

Rosslyn, glad you found your way here! Sending you a ton of encouragement (and empathy!:) as you revise. Funny, isn't it, how personal things can become when we write?

Tamara said...

Was it Stephen King who said you have to be willing to kill your little darlings when it comes to editing? I have a hard time with this on my own work.

Jennifer Valent said...

That sounds like Stephen King! :) Yeah, it's not easy to say goodbye. We put so much into our characters and stories!