Monday, July 25, 2016

Time and Edits

Hello again!  I had intended to write a post (usually writing-related) every Monday, but I've already missed the second one.  This is not a terrible surprise because I really do have a horrible sense of time, made even worse since I no longer do a weekly newsletter.  Time passes.  Today I thought, "Oh, it's Monday.  Time to do that second blog!"  And when I looked, I realized that it was two weeks ago that I had done the first one.
Part of the reason time passes without notice is because I am working on editing and rewriting.  Living in Caine's Hold is the type of book that takes all your attention, especially when you add and change things and need to go through everything to make certain all the events line up again.
Still, getting the work done is nice.  I have a cover for the book.  At least I think I do.  I might end up changing that one, too.
So here I am facing an editing problem many writers have to deal with when they get to this point.
When do you stop editing?
And that couples with the insane idea that you can somehow make the novel perfect.
Let's address the last one first.  It's important to go through the story and make certain not only of the grammar and punctuation but also of the storyline.  If you write out of order or tend to move events and chapters around, it is important that you sit down with the story and make certain everything is in an order that makes sense.  You might even create a timeline as you go through the chapters and write down not only what happens but also where all your important characters are at that moment.  How long would it take for any of these people who are not involved in the incident to find out about it?  You would be surprised how many unseen plot problems can pop up this way, and which are easy to fix with a slight adjustment of the passage of time.  It is the little things like that which a reader can catch.  For some readers, it is a game.  Don't make it easy for them.
The problem of over-editing is real, too.  You need to stop editing when you start changing things just to change them.  The edits no longer improve the story but at this point, they simply exchange a word with another, without developing the scene.  That doesn't mean you shouldn't change blue to sapphire or rough for abrasive when those are better words.  Be certain that the words you choose, especially in the speech and thoughts of the characters, are equal to their status.  A peasant is going to say rough, but a prince will use abrasive.  The problem is that some people keep editing such things and not making them better.  Change is not always good.
And what about that perfection?
There is none.  Oh, we can pretend that the author and an editor (or two) have found every possible mistake in the book, but it simply doesn't work that way.  Something will slip through.  Sometimes it will be something so annoying that you'll want to pull your hair out.  How could we have all missed that misused word?  How did no one catch that missing word?  Typos, missing commas, a period that should have been a question mark -- they're going to happen.  That doesn't mean you can shrug your shoulders and not try to correct everything.  The closer you come to perfection, the better. 
I should mention that I love editing which can create another problem.  If you like doing this work, you will tend to keep editing and tweaking (and changing things just to change them sometimes).  This can be related to the 'I fear to let it go' syndrome, too.  As long as you are editing, you don't have to worry about rejection.  At some point, though, you simply have to say this is as good the story can be and let it go, either to an agent or publisher or to as an indie publication.
I am very nearly to that point of letting go, and I know to keep an eye on that editing-just-to-edit problem.  I will release the book in early August.  I had hoped for July, but I decided on one other editing-related problem:  I am not going to rush this simply to get it out in the next few days.  I have about 50 pages left to edit plus formatting.  There will be ebook and print versions, though the print one will not be ready until after I get the proof copy and can look it over.  The cover may be too dark. There may be problems with the layout, though those are less likely to happen these days.  You never know what problems you might find.
But I am getting closer, and it is time to get back to work!

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