Editing. The act of writing is actually nothing more than that. What ideas do I want to include? What details are needed? Which ones should I leave out? What’s the best way to word this passage?
After that initial sweep is laid down as actual words-on-page, there is another round of editing. Tighten the prose. Make sure it flows well. Incorporate smooth transitions & segues between ideas. Ditch any text that doesn’t add to the whole. Declutter.
But, my own eyes can only go so far in the process. I, like all writers, am too close to the story. So, after the first couple rounds of refinement, it is good for me to look away and let another set of eyes see what they can see.
I currently have two such sets of eyes making a go of it. One belongs to my best friend & confidant, Micah. He is not a writer himself but has had a lifelong love of reading & is currently blazing up Amazon Kindle with new finds. The other set belongs to a good friend who also happens to be amazingly adept at turning a phrase. Jason & I supported one another through the grueling task of NaNoWriMo. We both ended up with distinctly different novels and are now swapping for some much needed critique & feedback. Here is a portion of a texting conversion we had yesterday [texting typos, shorthand and all].
Jason: I cant wait till im done giving manbirth to this thing so i can send it off
Me: Hurts doesnt it? But, man, does it want to get out!
Jason: Im pushing! i just want to get my first feedback of the completed work
Me: Yeah, i still need that. Micah is perusing it. he’s given minor feedback but not the the gut-wrenching kind i think it needs.
Jason: Can u email it to me? i can start digging in an hour or so in the evenings. im slow but careful.
Me: I emailed the first 4 cycles to you
Jason: K…ill print it out and get to reading. I could get you my first 4 chapters???
Me: Send what youve got ready & i’ll critique it with an editor’s eye
Jason: its on its way now…
Me: Yeehaw! ur so brave to put it within reach of my hands. Muahaahaaaa
Jason: 🙂 be gently critical
Me: I will guy. Editorial yet friendly. & 4 mine, u have 2 dumb urself down 2 a young adult reading level, but still be an editor.
Jason: Haha…i doubt that. Ill be critical, but will also be sure to suspend disbelief as to enter into the fabulous world youve created
So, we each took the chance. With swapped novels in one another’s hands, we have exposed them to scrutinizing eyes which do not possess the same love, commitment, blood, sweat & tears as their authors. It’s done now. We each are letting the other babysit for a few days. And we gave one another permission to nurture & punish as needed. I’m going to love on Jason’s man-baby and see if I can help it grow a little faster. And I’m hoping my baby returns to me stronger, more mature & potty-trained.