Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Why You Should Enjoy Editing Your Novel

     As I said in my last post, I have been editing the final draft of my novel. I have been learning many things through this process, chief of which is the necessity of enjoying the editing process. Why is it important to enjoy editing one’s own novel? This is a question I have pondered for several days now. 

     Editing a novel is a very long process and can be, at certain times, painful. It is painful because we, as writers, love our work. You may tell yourself that you hate your work, that you want it to be better, but while that is a good mindset, it is a lie. We are inherently biased toward the work of our hands, which in the writing profession is the work of our hearts. The marks of a red pen tearing apart your carefully worded sentences is a painful thing, there is no denying this.  
     Writers must naturally develop a tough skin. This tough skin helps with editing and those dreaded rejection letters. In short, fellow writers, you just need to deal with the pain. It doesn’t go away, but it can be dulled by understanding the necessity of editing. Disregarding the pain, dulled by your tough skin, it is important for you to enjoy the editing process which is necessary for your novel to reach excellence. 

     The importance of enjoying the process can be broken down into four basic elements: Perspective, entertainment, lesson, and choice. 

     You may now be wondering what these four, seemingly random, words have to do with enjoying the editing process. Well, my friends, I shall tell you from my own speculations. 

1.      Perspective: This is important because we must always have the proper perspective when editing. We edit to make our work better. This is the core of the editing perspective, but there are other elements, one such being audience. When editing your novel you must remember your target element and take the perspective of what they expect/enjoy while editing your novel.

2.      Entertainment: Novels are, at their basest level, a form of entertainment. And entertainment by its very nature is something we enjoy. This is why entertainment is an important element to enjoying the editing process. If you do not enjoy the process of making your novel better, how can you know that your reader will enjoy your final product?

3.      Lesson: Memorable novels are those which have some lesson in them, disguised or obvious. Novels which present lessons to their readers are novels that are remembered because they caused the reader to take something away, to ponder something even after they were done reading. These novels are also enjoyed more and, oftentimes, are read more than once. This is why making sure your novel has some lesson to be learned is important to enjoying the process. It is the same logic as #2, if you do not enjoy putting in the lesson, how will the reader enjoy learning the lesson? My geography professor is a perfect example of this. She does not enjoy teaching us. She does not put any passion in her lessons, and therefore I do not enjoy her lessons.

4.      Choice: This element is far more important than all the others, because only you can choose to enjoy the long process of editing your novel. Take enjoyment in working to give your readers a better piece of work. Choose to enjoy the process which gives them something worth enjoying.

     Well, I shall stop rambling now, but I implore you to remember that if you do not enjoy editing your novel, it is likely your readers will not enjoy reading it.

            Joshua A. Spotts

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

3 Reasons to Edit by Hand

I have edited sixty pages of my novel by hand over the past few weeks. After three rounds of editing on my computer, two by myself and one by a friend, I had not expected to change so many things during the hand edit.

I printed out all 231 pages with the expectation that I would read through it like I would any other book, making sure I had filled any plot holes. That was my objective. I sat down at my desk, tea to one side, red pen in hand. One minute later I was making marks on the paper, rewording sentences, choosing better words to convey better emotion, all that fun, good stuff. In essence, prime objective was laid aside and I set to tweaking my novel to increase the readability.

I am becoming a huge fan of editing by hand. Here are three good reasons to edit by hand:

1. There are less distractions. (practically none)

Think about it. When you are editing on your computer there are a host of distractions, because editing is not really a super exciting or engaging process. One distraction is the internet and all those marvelously addicting websites out there. Another distraction is writing. Oh, yes, I did say it. Writing will distract you from editing. For myself I have at least three word documents open at a time on my computer at all times. If I grow tired of editing all I need do is hit alt+tab and immerse myself in another writing process. When editing by hand, there is only you and your manuscript. When editing by hand, there is no internet constantly calling and no other projects that beg for your creative attention.

2. It is easier to notice parts that do not flow well.

Have you ever been reading a well-written passage in a book and that feeling is just right with what is going on, then one phrase, perhaps even one word, does not fit, therefore shattering the mood? Editing by hand permits you to catch these sort of things because your mind is used to finding them in text on paper, but not in text on a computer screen. Most of the changes I have made while editing by hand concern flow.

3. It assists in making realistic dialogue.

Last night while editing I came upon a section of dialogue and started reading it out loud without even thinking. It then occurred to me that I had been doing that since I began. Reading dialogue out loud helps with editing it because real dialogue, therefore realistic dialogue, is audible. I think that when editing a manuscript by hand a person is more likely to read everything out loud, murmur or full-voiced, which assists particularly with dialogue as explained above.

So the three reasons to edit by hand are:
1. There are less distractions.
2. It is easier to notice parts that do not flow well.
3. It assists in making realistic dialogue.

I am sure there are more reasons. If I find more while I continue my hand editing process I will update you all on what they are. I encourage you all to try editing by hand if you do not already. It really is quite helpful.

Joshua A. Spotts

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