REDISCOVERING THE EXCITEMENT DURING EDITING
After writing a novel, or even a short story, many of us, based on recommendations I and many others have given, will shelve it for a time. Then after a while, weeks, months or more, we’ll look at it with fresh eyes. By doing this, we gain new perspective, see the story in a new light.
For those of you that do this, how many of you discover new pleasures, find new ways of enjoying what you wrote, feeling like you nailed it, at least for the most part? Do you get those Aha, I did it? moments as you go through the manuscript? Even though you might find issues here and there, do you find good spots where you did exactly what you wanted to do? Do you surprise yourself and nail something better than you remember?
We all tend to forget details. I know when I’ve shelved a manuscript for months, then get back to it, I’ll get to a place and think ahead because I realize I might have a problem. I’ll see a perceived hole that needs fixing. However, when I correct the issue, I realize I didn’t need to because the answer to my dilemma is already covered a few sentences or paragraphs later. Now I have to backtrack and undo that correction! Does that mean I shouldn’t tweak things? Maybe, maybe not. It depends on whether it’s reading wrong or just me thinking ahead to what I remember or what I want it to say.
On the other hand, stuff I forgot I wrote sometimes surprises me all over again. I’ll get to a part and discover it all over again. It’s almost like reading and re-writing it for the first time all over again…what’s that Yogi Berra saying, “Déjà vu all over again?”
I sometimes think, “Damn, not bad.”
At least, so far, I haven’t had many “oh crap” moments, not since I edited some of my older stuff back in the early 2000’s.
Despite the excitement, there’s a never-ending desire to tweak. As an editor, however, I find that’s part of the fun. These “new” discoveries don’t dampen the excitement when I see what I wrote and find another way to make it even better.
Folks, I get excited all over again.
PLOT HOLES – THOSE UH OHS
During this remote read-through and edit after-the-fact, I’ve never had to make a major change, or scrap a story. However, there have been minor tweaks and adjustments. I alluded above that sometimes I thought I needed to make adjustments only to read a bit longer and find I’d already covered it. On the other hand, there were times I found a substantial hole, something I needed to fix. In one case, on the current story I’m editing, I have a note stuck to my desk for a piece of the puzzle I found that I need to address much later in the story. Without jumping way ahead to fix it, I want to discover that spot when I get to it, in weeks or months, at the rate I’m going. What will I discover? Have I already addressed it somewhere down the line, or will I need to tweak things when I get to that spot?
When the editor gets hold of the manuscript, I’m expecting a no forest-through-the-trees approach. I expect raw eyes to point out holes and things I cannot see because I’m too close. Will he or she trample all over my wow moments? Will I have to trash a thread or make a major change? So far that hasn’t happened, probably because I think so linear. Then again, we’ll find out when the time comes.
When I have to make plot tweaks, major or minor, so far just minor, my discovery starts all over again. My adventure begins anew. I’m able to put a fresh spin on things yet retain the same excitement for what I started with while discovering new and thrilling tweaks to add to my story.
Keep in mind that first and foremost, I write for me. Getting readers is second. My sincere hope is to find people who enjoy my stories as well, but if not, I had such a great time, I’ll be happy regardless. I love the process of writing and I hope it shows when others read my stuff. I hope you all feel the same way.