Writers Abroad Blog
Edit. Edit. Edit. Or not.
Posted by Jill Brown

Thereís nothing quite as satisfying as writing a page or several pages of stream-of-consciousness prose. Or poetry, I guess, though Iíve little experience there. Releasing the creative juices in that fashion leaves me with a warm fuzzy feeling inside. Sometimes. But then what? Edit.

Reading it over straight away can leave me with the impression that it should be left as it is. Raw. Straight from the heart. Put the piece aside for a few days and glaring errors jump off the page.

Even so, I believe this kind of writing should be treated with silk gloves. Itís all too easy to kill the original spark of creativity that sets us off and kill the very essence of the writing. Plot, story, theme, characterisation can all be worked on, but not the essence. That precious unknown quantity.

So how much do we edit? Personally, I go for the usual suspects: grammar and punctuation, overuse of adjectives and adverbs, finding a stronger verb, saying the same thing twice, using the correct word, over-writing, making sure Iíve started in the right place. Often I delete the first paragraph completely. The same goes for the ending. And so it goes, on and on and on Ė ad infinitum Ė until my head is dizzy and I lose the will to live.

I read of one author Ė interviewed in Writing Magazine Ė who said that heíd edited/rewritten his novel 50 times before it was ready for publication. No surprise then that it took him 15 years to write! Authors lucky enough to have publishers and deadlines wouldnít have that luxury (probably the wrong choice of word). In any case Iíd be sick to death with the sight of a novel long before Iíd reread it 50 times.

I write mostly short fiction and have been guilty of editing a story to within inches from its grave. †Because rereading two or three thousand words is easy, the temptation is there to edit and edit and edit. Iíve done this with travel articles as well, but luckily when commissioned the deadline kept editing within reason as time ran out. Competitions also have deadlines, the problem is if you miss one thereís usually another one with a later closing date. And so the editing continues.

I donít know if any of you get this sudden moment of truth, when a little genie whispers, ĎStop! Send it off.í Enough is enough. I can tell Iíve gone a bit OCD when I start turning the verbs Iíve changed in the story back to the originals. Aargh. Stop. Stop. Stop.

Some articles or blogs Iíve read on the subject suggest you can never rewrite enough. On the other hand, hereís a quote from Margaret Atwood: ĎIf I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.í

It probably wonít surprise you after reading this that Iíve hardly edited this blog at all. My little genie whispered ĎPost or weíll be here all night!í

Who's Online
This Month on Writers Abroad
Tuesday, May 01, 2018
May 2018 News
Writers Abroad

Promote your Page too
Our Book Shelf

Writers Abroad's Bookshelf

The House at Zaronza
tagged: writers, abroad, vanessa, couchman, historical, and fiction
Love is All You Need: Ten tales of love from The Sophie King Prize
tagged: writers, abroad, sophie, king, prize, alyson, and hillbourne
Out of Control
tagged: writers, abroad, nina, croft, members, and publications
The Duke's Shadow
tagged: the, duke-s, shadow, louise, charles, debut, and novel
Foreign & Far Away
tagged: writers, abroad, amanda, hodkinson, books, charity, anthology, 2013...
Losing Control
tagged: writers, abroad, nina, and croft
tagged: nina, croft, writes, and abroad
Conversations with S. Teri O'Type
tagged: writers, abroad, christopher, and allen
Break Out
tagged: writers, abroad, ninca, and croft
Deadly Pursuit
tagged: writers, abroad, nina, and croft
The Calling
tagged: writers, abroad, nina, and croft
Big Book of New Short Horror
tagged: featuring, wa, member, alyson, and hillbourne
Tiger of Talmare
tagged: writers, abroad, nina, and croft

Networked Blogs