Happy Friday and Happy June, everyone! It’s hard to believe that summer’s right around the corner and half the year is almost gone. Like most of you, I’ll be happy when 2020 is over.
Since I’m currently living in editing hell, I figured it would be a good idea to talk about it some more. I know I’ve mentioned editing in the past, but I want to give you all a better idea of what goes into editing a book. So, grab your beverage of choice and let’s dive in.
If you follow me on social media, then you’ve probably seen me bitch about editing at some point. It’s an exhausting and time-consuming process, especially for someone as indecisive as me. But editing is a necessary evil. Editing is where the magic happens. It’s where the word vomit turns into prose and place holders get filled in. It’s where descriptions, characters, and the fictional world really come to life.
There’s so much more to editing than just spelling, grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure. And while all of that is extremely important, the heart of editing is in the storytelling. This is where developmental editing comes into play. Developmental editing is all about story structure, making sure the story flows, and makes sense. It’s filling up those plot holes and cutting any scenes that don’t contribute to the story or move it forward.
When it comes to storytelling, every scene should serve a purpose. When I edit, it’s one of the first things I look at. Does the scene contribute to the story or does it fall flat? What constitutes a flat scene? Lots of things: too much dialogue, not enough description, no objective, no character goals, motivations, and more. Sometimes flat scenes just need some revising and sprucing up. Other times, they need to be rewritten or cut.
Pointless scenes aren’t the only things that get scrapped. I also cut out any info dumps, repetition, or redundant backstory, history, dialogue, and monologue. It usually takes a few rounds and an extra set of eyes to catch everything. It’s why alpha readers, beta readers, and editors play an important part in the polishing phase.
Another thing I do is flesh out my scenes and add in description. When I’m first working on my draft, the scenes play out so quickly in my mind that it’s impossible for me to catch everything. I usually end up missing some important details. So, this is the point where I set the scene, and add in any pertinent character and setting descriptions.
Something else I focus on while editing and revising is employing deep POV (point of view). Deep POV allows the reader to connect with the character. To achieve deep POV, I need to remove filter words such as watched, saw, heard, felt, thought, realized, noticed, wondered, and so on. Now, there’s nothing wrong with using filter words once in a while. But they tend to distance the reader from the character and that’s not something I’m looking to achieve. I want readers to experience everything that the POV character is experiencing at that moment. Whether it’s a crisp autumn breeze chilling their skin, or hot, gooey cheese melting in their mouths.
Deep POV also allows the reader to experience the character’s emotions. Instead of me telling you that Nick’s angry, I’m going to show you through the tick in his jaw, clenched fists, and tense muscles. Once again, there’s nothing wrong with saying Nick’s angry. In fact, sometimes it’s more effective, like in action sequences when everything is moving at a fast clip. If I describe every emotion in detail, it slows the pacing.
Pacing is another issue that gets tackled during edits. I like a balance of fast-pace, slow-pace, and something in between. If an entire story is quick-paced and filled with action, as a reader I feel like I can’t catch my breath. If an entire story is all long chapters, filled with purple prose and intricate details, I get bored. So, finding a happy balance is important to me. It’s about varying chapter and scene lengths. Some chapters are longer, and some are shorter, though I don’t like to drag my chapters out. So if I see something that seems too lengthy or too short – I make the appropriate changes.
Because I write from multiple character points of view, it’s important for me to ensure that the POV character’s voice is clear and distinct. Readers need to know whose viewpoint they’re experiencing the story from. Sometimes, when a scene isn’t working, it’s simply because I wrote it from the wrong point of view. I’ve done this a few times and switching POVs was all that was needed. But, changing points of view isn’t as simple as it sounds. I don’t just go in and change the name of the POV character. I need to get into their head, thoughts, and write from their personal experience. Those are the scenes that require full rewrites and some extra time.
Something else that goes along with POV is dialogue. I love writing dialogue, but it doesn’t always work on paper the way it does in my head. When I’m editing dialogue, I always ensure that it’s clear on who’s speaking at that moment. I utilize dialogue tags (said, replied, asked) or action tags (which indicate what the character is doing at that moment). I don’t always use dialogue or action tags, especially when the conversation is between two people. Most readers are smart enough to figure out who’s talking.
Another thing I do with dialogue, is act it out in my character’s voice. I know it might seem strange, but writers are actors in many ways. When we’re writing from a certain character’s point of view, we have to be that character. So, acting out dialogue ensures that it sounds natural and stays true to the way that the POV character speaks. This is my favorite part of editing. I love getting into my characters’ heads and experiencing the story through their eyes. I just hope that you all get that experience too. Which is why I’m taking my time and working hard on this latest round of edits and revisions.
There’s so much more to editing than what I’ve mentioned here, but I don’t want to bore you with all the details. I just wanted to give you all an insight on what editing looks like for me. Many people don’t realize how much time and effort go into polishing a book.
I’ve been quite busy with edits, revisions, and real-life responsibilities, so I’m still working on getting the interview snippets posted. I’m hoping to get to those at some point this month or worst case – next month. So keep your eyes out for those.
Daniel and Lucas’s bios are also posted, Holly’s will be up next week. My next personal blog will be on Friday, July 3rd. The next character blog will be Ryan’s and his will be posted on Friday, June 19th. Until then, I hope you all are staying safe and healthy. Until next time.