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Ripping Apart Your Story…

It’s been a busy holiday here at the Swamp.  I did manage to finish my first draft of Shadow’s Moon, wrangled some interviews with really cool peeps (check out the Guest Post tab), clean out the pits known as the Prankster Duo’s rooms, and took a small breather from the job that pays the bills.  Now  as I wait to finalize guest post dates and prepare for the Bloggers Book Fair in February, I’m reading back through Shadow’s Moon and utilizing my red ink scalpel to finesse my creation before sending it out into the big, bad publishing world.  Currently I’m hiding out in my office of solitude, now graced with a gorgeous shiny 27 inch Apple, while Nerf bullets fly throughout our humble shack.  Knight in Slight Muddy Armor is holed up reveling in the adventures of a high school teacher who chooses to engage in a “questionable” job opportunity.  Even the  Garden Gnomes are hiding in their garden from the heated exchange of foam bullets wielded by five preteen males. Ah, yes, the year is off to a rousing start!

I’ve been asked a few time what my editing process is–the simplest answer: BRUTAL.  It never fails, I finish a story, type END and then feel like a limp dishrag.  I set it aside for a couple of weeks while I recover my strength and confidence.  I’m not sure about every writer out there, but I know that once I finish a story I’m suddenly plagued by insecurities.  Will anyone really like this story? Are my characters deep enough, real enough for readers to connect to? Does my plot resemble a colander, leaking story elements into the ether? Did I add extra arms/legs/body parts where they weren’t needed? The worries are endless and tend to get stuck on a mental loop that make that blindly bright white jacket with buckles look oh so inviting.

When I finally come back to the story, I sit down and read it from beginning to end, armed with my red ink scalpel and begin to answer all of those questions.  Add here. Slash there. Rewrite there because there’s no way in hell that character would EVER say that.  For almost two solid weeks I’ll immerse myself in the story, smoothing the edges, filling the holes until it shines.  Then I send it out.  Once my editor gets ahold of it, she sends it through at least three more brutal rounds in the editing ring.  Bloody and beaten, it will triumph, in the end unbowed but oh so much stronger than when it stepped into the ring.  I honestly don’t think a writer ever feels like a story is ever “perfect”.  Even if it’s out there, being consumed by readers, I know that if I sat down to read Shadow’s Edge or Shadow’s Soul now, I would change things.  Not that they need it, but because writers are constantly honing their skills.  That’s why you shouldn’t go back to what’s out there, but put those skills to work in what’s ahead or currently in front of you.

Snarky shared this awesome post this week with me.  It’s from one of my favorite writers, Chuck Wendig and his Terrible Minds blog.  When you have the time, check it out. It’s worth reading.  In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a quote from his post: How Chuck Wendig Edits a Novel:

“Writing is when we make words.  Editing is when we make the words not shitty.”

Until next week!


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