Monday, 8 July 2013

My Editing Heaven and Hell

 Over the last few weeks I’ve been hard at work tormenting myself to death. Yes folks, it’s that time all writers learn to love and hate; the editing of a novel.

It’s a great feeling to see your words being crafted into something meaningful and entertaining. Once or twice I’ve found little passages or a sentence that made me go “fuck yeah” such was the beauty or power of the words in front of me.

Sadly however, no sweary word has been left un-muttered at the endless repetitions, unnecessary alliteration or stuff that is just plain stupid or unbelievable or just shit.

I mean, what the hell was I thinking of when I wrote some of that nonsense? Where did all the “that’s, then’s, which’s, who’s and and’s” come from? I certainly (Shit! Just used an adverb. That’ll need edited out) don’t remember writing them. And don’t get me started on contractions!

The fact I chose to write without dialogue tags only makes things harder as I have to craft ways of informing the reader who’s speaking.

Yes my novel is getting better and altogether tighter because of this vital and necessary editing. If I’m lucky enough to get any interest from a publisher or agent, I’m sure that I’ll be handed a massive batch of suggestions to tighten it further but until that day (if that day ever comes) then I’m concentrating on getting it as good as I possibly can.

This editing has now crept into my writing on every level. After the first round of edits, I wrote a couple of short stories and I could sense the first draft was technically tighter than (Fuck. Adverb and alliteration.) any previous first draft. Even stuff I write at work or Facebook now gets the same attention to detail when it doesn’t need it.

When this edit is complete I will be handing it over to my wife to proof read. Cue several yards of red ink on each page and more un-muttered swearing.

So peeps. Am I on the write (You see what I did there?) track or am I just driving myself insane? All comments welcome.

Future guest posts include
Tom Cain / David Thomas
Stephen Jay Schwartz


  1. What's wrong with adverbs? Alliteration is great. It's a big language...use it

  2. I am also stuck in editing hell ... for me, it has been a long process. A very LOOOOONG process. Let me explain, I write Historical fiction based on actual events. So, first edit consisted of "did it happen then, is that right, no, he wasn't there, he was actually dead, he did get executed." That is sorted, with the plot surviving, characters gone, new ones added... So, now I am the words and punctuation edit, which consists of a lot of swearing at unnecessary commas, adverbs, etc etc. so, I feel your pain.

  3. I reckon you're driving yourself insane, mate. I edit a magazine, and some even say I'm pretty good at editing, but I had to google some of those words up there. Chill out, Graham. Write what you read and read what you write. If a sentence works then leave it, even if it's technically incorrect. Adverbs, contractions, alliteraiton - they all work in their own ways. In my opinion, of course.

  4. If you're looking for perfection, Graham, forget it mate. You need to get to a place in the process where you're happy to submit it and hope for the best.
    Among others, Roddy Doyle dispenses with the need for dialogue tags, and, once the reader catches on, it's easy to digest.

    Best of luck with the agonising.

  5. This and the synopsis are my least favourite aspects, but they are absolutely necessary. Sounds like you're on the right track, mate, tightening things up. Don't forget to drop the cliches (unless in speech), plus watch for those bitches... repetitions! ;-)