Friday, June 10, 2016

That Necessary Growing Process Called "Editing"

Let me tell you a secret...

Whoever tells you editing is simple and fun... don't listen to them. 

Because it's not. 

It is, more than likely, the hardest part about writing a book.

This summer I have made it my great project to edit Secret of the Hazel Tree and hopefully look into publishing it... soon. Honestly, I have no idea what the Lord has in store for this book of mine, because I've been looking into publishing for the last two years or so, and every time He's said "no." It hasn't been an easy journey, but I know it's been one that I need. 

Every book needs editing, and mine is no exception. Seriously. Unless you're a Jedi or something amazing like that, you're not going to put down a perfect story the first time around. I should know. I've tried it. More than once. And with every single story, I've had to go back through and edit it. 

It's a rough process. Large-scale editing, to me, is like trying to alter the events of history after everything in your novel is over. Small-scale editing is like walking into a swarm of mosquitoes. It won't kill you, but sufferin' cats, does it hurt! Working through your story will throw back every bad thing that's in the novel, and it's your job to fix it. I'm thoroughly convinced that writing and editing together is one of the toughest chores the human brain will ever face. 

When I finished the first draft of Secret of the Hazel Tree on April 30, 2014, the story stood at 198,000 words. One hundred and ninety-eight thousand words. I'd written almost 200K in 5 months. It was phenomenal. I felt like I'd just conquered the world. 

In reality, I'd just begun the quest to conquer a realistic, magic-free Cinderella mystery. 

Two years later, I'm still editing. Granted, being at school has really thrown a wrench in the works as I really don't have the time Sept-May to actually take hours to sit down and work at my stories. Hazel Tree has taken a back seat time and time again. 

Last summer, I spent a good deal of time tackling some of the big-scale problems. Continuity with characters, missing details in the revelation scenes at the end, scenes that didn't add to the story as a whole, etc. I rewrote my first chapter almost five times. And I'm still not completely satisfied with it. As the first chapter, it's gotta grab people's attention and pull them completely, hook-line-and-sinker, into the story. I wanted readers to absolutely fall in love with my main character from the very beginning. I wanted it to taste fresh, but I still wanted it to have that old-fashioned fairy tale flavor. 

Last summer, within adding things, fixing things, deleting things, I edited out 10,000 words in three months. 

This summer, I've been going through chapter by chapter, reading, rewriting, editing, deleting... you name it. If it's related to writing, I've probably done it within this last month. I've gone 38% of the way through my manuscript, and I've already edited out about 12,000 words. 

Currently, SotHT is at 177,139 words. So, it's still long. I really haven't changed anything huge. I haven't cut millions of scenes, nor deleted any characters. I just discovered that I'm wordy. Really wordy. (This blog post should be proof enough for that.) It's still the same story, but I've been hard at work editing. And it hurts.

But that's okay!

Editing is supposed to hurt. My dad's favorite thing to say to me is this...

"Never fall in love with your writing. The moment you do that is the moment you cease to grow as a writer."

If you're happy with what or how you write, you'll never get better. Satisfaction with "good enough" will never become excellence. Editing is part of the natural process towards becoming a better writer. Editing is double-checking your work, scrutinizing word choices, questioning character traits, and doubting plot progression. If you can't respect and believe your story, chances are your readers won't either. 

I love this quote!
I like to think of editing as self-teaching. I'm finding the flaws in my own writing and making myself fix them. 198,000 words has been hard to wade through and refine, I'll not deny that. But I've been able to polish up chapters and brighten up paragraphs by removing the excess decorations. Now, I truly believe, my readers will be able to enjoy the story more because they can actually see it. Too many words before blotted it horribly from view.

For those of you who are die-hard long novel lovers like me, no fear. I'm not working to destroy my Cinderella and push it into the standard young adult length. I want my story to speak for itself and I'll allow it to do that in any length it chooses. 

Editing isn't fun. It isn't easy. But I can promise that, if faithfully pursued, it can be entirely rewarding. It'll make your story better. 

And it'll make you a better writer.

Try it sometime. 

God bless!


  1. But ... editing is fun. One of my favorite parts of the writing process. You're no longer building the story out of your sweat and blood, but carefully polishing and shining it until it sparkles.

    (Though I won't say that it is never frustrating - but tell me one sort of "fun" that's never frustrating. I dare you.)

    Of course, my big editing issue is the opposite of yours - I tend to be a bare-bones writer and a putter-inner editor. I've been editing LDTD, and I've already added 10,000 words and am only 3/5 of the way through...

    Best of luck, and I can't wait to read the polished version of SotHT. Nor can I wait to shout to everyone and their sister to read the book. Because, honestly, they need to.

  2. <3 this post. Best of luck on your editing! I know how hard that is to edit, especially cutting... I too am wordy. Like, really wordy. >.> I wouldn't be surprised if what I'm currently writing turns into a 200k tale itself (and it's only part of a series). :P But having to cut over 6k words from a 26k word novella in December really taught me about being able to cut extra wordiness to make it able to shine. So I SO know what you're talking about, and it is painful--super--but it can also be wow. But also the idea of going through almost 200k of that... is... terrifying and impressive. I'm so in awe of you. So GO GO GO! Cheering you on! ^_^ You have got this! And The Secret of the Hazel Tree sounds AMAZING and I can't wait to read it someday! ^_^

  3. I tend to be either wordy or bare bones, depending on what I'm writing. I'm a bare bones writer more often than wordy- especially with the Fidelitas series...whereas with the Stellumo series, so far I've been wordy.

    Either way, I tend to (mostly) enjoy editing because I'm polishing the story and making it even better. As Kendra said, it's not always fun, but so far, I've enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

  4. Can I just hug this post?

    First of all, I'm so very, VERY excited you've been working on SotHT!!! :D

    Secondly, I'm right there with ya! I've basically spent my entire life absolutely dreading the editing process. As a result I...never did it. I wrote tons of first drafts, but never got past that. But this year I took the plunge and am currently heavy into edits of my own book. And though, yes, it can be so very hard, it's also such satisfying work! Seeing your beloved story grow and shape and shine. As you said, it's entirely rewarding!

    I am just sitting here in awe at how many words you've cut. GO KIRI. Seriously. o.o I'm wordy myself, ridiculously so. But I'm also bad at finding what words need cutting. I'd actually LOVE a post by you on some tips and tricks you've found along the way to cut those unnecessary words. *puppy dog eyes*

    I canNOT wait to one day hold a shining version of SotHT in my hands. Because I know it will happen! Keep pushing on. You've got this! *fistpump*