Thoughts on Editing a Novel

“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.”  -Stephen King hosted a webinar on the issue of editing a novel today.  This was a great interest to me as I am in the process of finishing my manuscript which I started last month during NaNoWriMo. Writing the novel has proved to be a fun, vivacious experience but as I near the end of the line, I am weary about how to go about the process of editing so I made sure I paid attention to what was being said.

First off, right off the bat the first thing they stated was “Writing is Rewriting” To write something is to go back and rewrite it. I honestly feel like this is true. Editing my novel will allow me an opportunity to look over what I put my time, effort and heart into and turning it into the best it can be. For the past month, going on two, I have stretched gray tape over the mouth of my inner editor, letting my creativity scream at the top of its lungs. Now, it’s time to give my editor the opportunity to speak its mind. My editor has a lot to say, I’m sure.

The first question that comes to mind when thinking about editing is where to start. I have to be honest, I was thinking about just reading through the novel from the beginning to the end but the webinar addressed this as something that may be difficult, especially if a novel is long. Right now I have concluded that I will stop my novel at chapter 30. I am intimidated by the idea of going back and fixing my story because there are a lot of words to review.

“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”  -Stephen King

One area that I have thought I am weak in is description. I have read stories that were over 50 chapters and filled with so much description it makes your head spin. I am afraid my readers will beg for more description but other’s may want less description. What I learned is that I can say what I want to say but instead of doing it in 50 words, do it in 15 or even 5. It takes practice.

A writer will usually go on to describe how a person looks, what they are wearing, their facial expression, what their hands are doing, if their toes are moving in their shoes, what kind of shoes they are wearing, etc etc. And this is all in one sentence. I don’t want to do that. I want to lessen the amount of words I use in order to strengthen my story.

“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”    -Stephen King

Adverbs, I’ve grown to love them and yet I try not to use too many of them. When I was writing my novel I tried very hard not to use too many adverbs such as “said” “exclaimed” “asked”. There are times it was needed but not as much. The way I decided to combat adverbs is to put an action with the character who is about to speak in the line before. When dialogue followed after it will be assumed who the person is speaking because it was set up in the previous line. This was also reiterated in the webinar.

“Publishing is tough” -Me

Traditional or Self Publish? That is the question.  I will do a more detailed post on this aspect at a later date but in each case it is best to find someone who is interested in reading and editing your story. Finding a beta reader will be the best bet. I currently have two close friends reading my story to provide me with feedback. I have also considered looking into getting a professional to review my story but I know that does not come cheap.

“To write is human, to edit is divine.”  -Stephen King

Editing is a part of the writing process. Not the fun part, for some, but necessary. My job is to look over my work and perfect it to the point that readers will enjoy it and feel what I feel for my story. To ignore editing, in my eyes, is to abandon your story. And I’m not ready to do that, not now, not ever.

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