Blog Entry 8 Jan – Editing

I’ve been struggling through this Work In Progress (WIP) – much more so than with the two previous books. This is despite the fact that the story line is much better developed than when I wrote the first two. I think part of that is my mood; a dark mood is not conducive to writing the type of story I’m working. But another part is awareness of what is good, and what is not.

Rather than being discouraged, I believe my struggling is a good sign. It should be fun to write. Once written, one should not be immediately satisfied, but it should be fun to read. It is fun. However, I think I am struggling this time because it is harder to write well than it is to write poorly.

Like all of my first drafts, this one is wordy. Unlike in the past, when I’ve crawled through three or four sequential edits, I’ve decided to do something weird. Weird, at least, for normal people. I am doing two simultaneous edits, while working the first draft. I know that sounds like a bad idea, and it may turn out to be. However, I have ADHD, am simultaneously Thinking and Feeling (think Myers-Briggs ENTJ/ENFJ) and am ambidextrous. As a result, handling multiple input streams at once is far more relaxing to me than trying to teach my unruly brain how to focus on just one task.

I remain hopeful that doing so will accomplish two goals: one, turn up the energy level and make writing this book easier, and two, make for a better book.

In my current WIP, I’m going through the 65,000 words written thus far and focusing on dialog. I need to ensure that each person has a unique, consistent way of speaking. That is how it works in real life too. I can’t allow everyone to sound like, well, me. So this means crawling through each chapter, and reading aloud. Where the characters sound like each other, I fix it, using my character profiles. (And yes, they are based on Myers-Briggs.)

Separately, I created a mirror of the WIP, and named it tight. There, following Stephen King’s advice, I am taking out every unnecessary word. How do I know which ones are unnecessary? If I take them out, and the sentence is no worse, they weren’t needed. This is what poets do as well.

I have a separate file for this, because, frankly, it is hard as hell to do. I’m wordy (on paper). I like my words. Tightening the WIP, though, is critical. So far, it’s taking me far longer to tighten than it did to write, but the work is improving. I think. Hopefully, doing this, while alternating with writing new chapters, will teach me to write tighter in the first place.

My second drafts on average were 10-20% longer than the first drafts. Which means I added missing pieces and critical dialog, but did nothing to make it more readable. My new goal is to make the 2nd draft 12% shorter than the first.

Better get to it. Thinking about it is already draining my resolve.