Sunday, September 30, 2012

Editing: Just Relax And Embrace The Process


I always knew editing was important, and I wrote my first draft assuming that when I was done, the editing would be just as much of a process as the initial writing itself.

I had no idea.

If anything, it's more of a process.

Throughout the actual writing, I came up against my own inexperience again and again.  But I pushed through it,  holding onto the eventual editing phase as my salvation.  When I finished that first draft, and went back and read over it again, I realized something disconcerting: I was way out of my depth.

Having invested far too much time and energy into completing my first book, there was, of course, no way I was going to let it go easily.  And the bones were there for it to be a very good story.  It just lacked polish, cohesiveness, that sophistication that "professional" writers have.  The very thing that makes people willing to pay money for something you've written.

I had some work to do.  Okay, I had a lot of work to do.

I realized even before I whipped out my blue pencil that if I was going to effectively edit my manuscript, I needed to learn more about just what it is that makes a professionally-written romance novel.  Perhaps more importantly, I needed to learn why mine wasn't.  So I started reading.

And I kept reading.  I read through every book on writing romance novels I owned, and bought more, and read those.  And I took notes.  I began compiling checklists to refer to as I went through my manuscript.  Checklists for the hero.  Checklists for the heroine.  Love scene checklists, dialogue checklists, beginning checklists, ending checklists.  I have a serious compilation of checklists now, people.

But you know what?  In spite of their anal-retentive undertones, they're really helpful, especially to a newbie like myself who, prior to all that reading and note-taking, was really incapable of recognizing the huge, glaring problems in my writing. 

So I'm going to share those checklists.  They've really helped me out a lot, and I'm convinced at least a few other people could find them helpful, too.  I've done all the work (and it was a lot of work!), now I hope others can benefit.

Happy shredding- er, editing!