Wednesday, 25 February 2009

The Editing Process

I am feeling a bit stressed today. My trusty laptop exploded this morning and I now have no access to my life. I am hoping to have the problem fixed by the end of today but in the meantime I write this from my Dad's computer. I didn't realise just how much I depended on my laptop until it was gone!
Last night I worked until 2.30am on the editors draft of "Bree McCready and the Half-Heart Locket". It's been a busy old time lately (so busy in fact that I actually enjoyed my visit to the dentist yesterday since it was the first time in about two weeks that I had actually sat down and done nothing!) It's so important to get the final draft of the novel perfect but also to make it a suitable size for the target age group. My original version was three times the size of where we are at now. Editing a novel is a tricky and time-consuming process. Sometimes there are parts in the book that took months to write or paragraphs that have sentimental meaning. Watching them getting axed in one swift motion can be agonising. However, writers must accept that this is a necessary process. I found this advice from a 'writing for children' website particularly useful -
"Is there a phrase, paragraph or scene you are especially proud of? Do you return to it and reread it, delighting in your skill with words? Cut it out immediately. This advice seems harsh and is hard to carry out, but the fact that you so proud of this passage means that the words chosen have become more important than the message or story behind them. They may seem wonderful to you, but they will jar the reader, and draw them away from the storyline. It’s like serving a plate of delicious cakes on a pretty plate, and demanding that your guests ignore their hunger and focus on the plate. They won’t like it. Nor will your readers"
I am lucky enough to have a wonderful editor (Graham) who I trust implicitly to do the right thing and who I know will make the right decisions. He is enthusiastic and passionate about my novel and I know that whatever he does will ultimately be for the benefit of the final draft. I found this lovely quote by H.G Wells which sums up the work of a good editor - "No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else's draft"
I am tired this morning and despite feeling anxious about my broken laptop I am happy, satisfied and excited about this next step forward with my book. Yes, writing and editing is a difficult process but in the words of Robert Cormier, "The beautiful part of writing is that you don't have to get it right first time, unlike say a brain surgeon"

1 comment:

  1. That last quotation is a cracker. Makes me think of getting second chances in life. I'm currently on my 1738th second chance. Think I might need more than that though.
    Love the site and looking forward to reading the novel.