RTP #2: The E Word
Funnily enough, I do a lot of editing.
I write a blog, as you know…you’re reading it, and I am constantly proof-reading and checking to make sure every single blog post makes sense. Back at uni, I used to edit and proof-read my essays, stories I wrote for assignments, as well as being the best friend in the world and editing other people’s dissertations.
I charged in chocolate back then.
I also got into the editing game on Wattpad, where I exchanged proof-reads for views. While this sounds nice, it actually took up so much time and I got nothing in return. Turns out, a lot of people don’t know what grammar or correct English is and also don’t follow up on their promises.
But it’s editing this novel that has got me seriously questioning my own abilities as a writer and amateur editor. This manuscript will be the first thing an agent sees of your work. It is basically a CV; it shows what you are capable of and how talented you are and you have to boast and big yourself up by making sure every single sentence, every word in that story is relevant and supposed to be in there.
So it’s not just grammar and spelling and correct sentence structure. It’s not just about competency, it’s also about making major changes and finding inconsistencies about large themes in your story. I have scrapped big chunks of scenes in this WIP because I’ve read it over and physically wanted to shield myself from the cringe. Some things just don’t work, and despite how much you enjoyed writing it and thinking it up, sometimes it’s gotta go.
#2 Making sacrifices is hard, but it’s gotta be done.
You may love that one character, that one scene, that one line of dialogue, but when you’re polishing that manuscript, you can’t afford to have things in there that don’t need to be. I like to write quite a bit and then come back to it with fresh eyes and it really puts stuff into perspective; lines that I laughed at while writing aren’t so funny anymore, a character isn’t relatable anymore, just annoying.
I have so much information about my world in my head that it’s hard to come back to the novel without already knowing so much about it. I don’t notice plot holes or things unexplained because “duh, everyone knows that.” But oh, no they don’t.
Enter beta readers, the simultaneously most scary and exciting beings you’ll meet on your publishing journey. Beta readers, I have found, are so necessary when getting your manuscript perfect. I’d never planned to recruit any until I realised everyone did and it’s just SO IMPORTANT. I’ve been loving the feedback I’ve been getting, mainly because they’re asking questions about things I never thought to ask, to wonder, that people might even think. One beta gave me a huge list of things she didn’t understand, and honestly it was a life saver. I couldn’t imagine not giving my manuscript to beta readers, but instead to agents, and missing my chance because no one had the foggiest as to what was going on.
I think that’s it for today. If you’re editing, I salute you. This is bit is definitely harder than writing the actual thing.