The Pain of Editing

The Pain of EditingNobody tells you about the pain of editing. How frustrating that ‘one last revision’ gets when you find another truckload of bad prose, poor punctuation and downright dumb dialogue. No one says the creative process is easy.

It all depends on your conscience, on your work ethic, on your own standards. Whether you’re prepared to shout “once more with feeling” and perform that last pass through the manuscript.

Did I just compare editing a novel to rehearsing the school musical?

But that’s what I have to do.

Bordering on Tedious

Each time I complete an edit, I put the thing aside, only to have a nagging voice whisper “go on, read it again.”

Or in this case, put it through ProWritingAid again to run a basic grammar check. A final step before sending it to my editing ‘team.’

What does ProWritingAid think of it?

Spelling/Grammer check: embarrassing.

Style score: on the floor.

That’s just the start of it.

So I gave up running it through ProWritingAid for yet another round of manual edits. I’m losing count.

The Need for Speed

As a writer, I want to get the words on the page; get the book out there as a physical thing. Having outlined the plot, the text comes out as a dirty draft. Taking my own advice, I try to resist the urge to edit as I go. That way lies low productivity and a minuscule word count.

But with that, I have to acknowledge how much of my text comes out as garbage. Tell myself, it doesn’t matter right now, and move along. These stories don’t tell themselves. I also have to acknowledge the work I’m storing up for later rounds of editing.

The Minutiae on the Bounty

Plot; fixed. Characters; solid. Dialogue; ripe. Description: woolly, confusing, inept. Flow; like a learner driver with a manual gear shift and two left feet.

The value of the edit often lies in the details.

I comma-splice, a lot. I frequently need to break sentences apart.

Commas for semi-colons. Yes, that. Or do I mean: yes; that? It’s all very confusing.

Repeated words. Back to the thesaurus I go.

Bad dialogue tags and dialogue beats. These drive me insane. Editor-me shouts at Writer-me “call yourself a writer? What were you thinking? Were you thinking?”

Adjectives. Frequently just plain wrong. Not what I meant at all.

Adverbs. Kill those ‘ly’ words before they kill the prose stone dead. He said bitterly. That’s one of my ‘favourites.’

Screaming from a Hilltop

Each time I go through this, the pain of editing has me screaming from a hilltop. Why didn’t I spot all this garbage on the last run-through? Or the one before that?

Because self-editing is hard. And tedious. And time-consuming.

I get to the end of the manuscript with a triumphant feeling. The doubt creeps in ten minutes later. I missed all that garbage on the previous run-through, what did I miss this time? I start to question how good is ‘good enough?’ Is it ever ‘good enough?’

Do I go back for just one last pass…?

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