Whittle Away

Third day of being sick and second day of heavy rains and flooding, so it’s another day at home for me. (School was canceled for the kids and mr myn was kept overnight because things were so bad in his area – super deep water, cars abandoned everywhere, end of days, the usual.)

Anyway, I managed to get through my first round of copy edits last night. I won’t call them officially done until I send them in, but I managed to fix a lot of small things, as well as add/delete some extra scenes that will become more important later on. (Problem with writing a series is that some things don’t come to light until you’re writing the next book – I’m just happy I’ve still got the time to go back and lay a few breadcrumbs.)

So, I’ll run through the edits again this weekend. I’ve started to read it aloud to see how it comes across. You’d be surprised at how much that helps when it comes to awkward sentence structure. Sometimes I think my brain just blurs out words that might not be quite right when I’m sight reading, simply because it knows what it wants to see. Not always a good thing when it comes to making sure everything works.

Problem is, I’m at that point where everything starts to look like crap. A lot of editing in general is taking things out and smoothing things over. Copy edits are a subset of that. It’s less of a “gee, this is a plot hole that needs fixed” and more of “you used the word ‘gut’ 15 time in the last three pages. Try a thesaurus next time, doofus.”

I have to be careful because I have a tendency to sometimes just delete stuff I don’t feel like dealing with. Sometimes that’s good. After all, if I use the phrase “my gut churned” 26 times in the ms, chances are I really *don’t* need them all. Even changing the phrase to something else  – “my chest ached”/”a cold shiver hit my spine”/”my butt burned” – it doesn’t matter – the concept has mostly become filler and the moment loses impact.

Oh, gee, Abby’s gut is twisting again. Guess she must be upset about something. Yawn.

So, I go through and whittle away, and then whittle away some more. Do I need all those dialogue tags? Is there a better way to say this? Jesus, my characters seem to be doing an awful lot of head tilts and sardonic smiles.

But…as the author, the problem with taking a magnifying glass to the work is that it’s really hard to pull back to look at the larger picture. It’s entirely too easy to become completely obsessed with removing and polishing all the flaws that you run the risk of losing the “voice” of the piece entirely – and then all you’re left with are stilted sentences that might be grammatically correct, but have lost all their spark.

Just have to keep telling myself it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be the best I can do.

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