What do you enjoy, or alternatively, find the most harrowing about self editing a recently completed story? Is it the knowledge you’re improving your grammar, tightening the script, catching any little plot points not working? For me I think it is all three and a lot beyond.
One of my major problems I’m embarrassed to admit, is my hankering to continue using a word once its come into my mind. With the help of my lovely editor, I’ve discovered while my stories are flowing from the keyboard, I unknowingly select certain words and use them to death. Each book holds different examples of these favourite words, probably because she has made me aware of my choices in the previous book and I consciously avoid those she has picked up. In fact I have a growing list on the wall above my computer screen so I’m never likely to forget. I have two or three words in each of my romances where I discover I’ve used them well into three figures. For example in a previous story, dragged has been identified as a “favourite” of mine. I’ve just checked my current work and without ever isolating this word during my self editing process, I discover I’ve used it seven times. Over 85,000 words, I think that is an acceptable ratio.
Do you find when your brain is galloping ahead with a story, you don’t actually care what words you use? I guess that’s what being a pantser is all about. Getting the story out and visible is what’s initially important to me. I know the editing process is going to take many, many hours of work but that doesn’t faze me at all. In fact I still get a buzz editing my stories because the romance is complete. The characters’ journey has twisted and stumbled over whatever boulders I placed in their way and they are looking forward to their very own happy ever after – like any good romance story is going to provide.
Self editing for me is about the quality of my writing. Can I tighten it? Which adverb can I ditch by using a stronger noun? What sentence is unnecessary because it neither drives the story or provides information to the reader? This is where I concentrate my attention. Rarely do I have to make plot changes or suddenly realise I have missed a whole chunk out of the story. Instead I’m looking for any too common words – Maggie always manages to find some no matter how careful I think I’ve been – as well as everything else I can to tighten and improve my writing.
What hassles do you have with self editing? How have you managed to overcome your problem areas? I’d love to hear.