Editing 101

A couple of people have asked about my ‘how to’ editing process. I’m working on a hard copy print out that runs 297 pages/99004 words. I find I need a hard-copy to make notes, cuts. I’ve never been able to do that on screen – even for poetry I have to have a hard copy. In this draft I’m filling in spots where I put (research) on the first blurt – one example is my hero gets assaulted, hurt enough for internal bellding – I didn’t know what it woudl to do that when first worte the scene so when I came to it this time I googled ‘fractured ribs’ – this is fiction so I merely want to sound belivable not medically precise.

I’m just at the 101 page point in my hard-copy draft – 34,263 words; now edited to 96 pages/ 32,427 words. Progress is being made.  Once get this draft done, hopefully by the end of April, I’ll do a bit of polish with ‘search’ – type in certain words, phrases I fall back on too much – i.e. – thought, thinking, felt, just, seemed, …ing, …ly words – that sort of thing. Then I may get another print out or perhaps find some first readers for a pdf version.

Here’s a small before-and-after example of an edited section:

brief context – An intruder has tried to break down Harris’s apartment door (why? you’ll have to read the novel when it gets published) The police have escorted her of the premesis. Max is building security.

First version:

“Harris pulled off his boxers and got into the shower. He’d had no time for one the last few days. He must have stunk when Max was talking to him. Hot hot water then a fast icy blast and back to the hot. Detox his system faster from the pain meds. The bandage softened under the hot water and suds; he carefully eased it off. The bruise was pretty bad but his ribs were merely tender when he carefully soaped them. No spikes of pain.

He went on to the balcony to let the sun dry him off while he ate from a bag of double chocolate cookies.  If anyone saw him they were looking for it. Warm sun on his arms, chest, cock and balls.  He stretched out on the chaise to let the tension of the past week flow out of him and into the sun. After five minutes he turned over.

Sleepy he went back into his apartment, laid on the bed and drifted off wondering why the curse had reversed. Was that what happened if he didn’t fulfill an initial infatuation?  The busboy at Story came to mind. Alex. Fuck. That wasn’t the answer he was looking for.

It was about six when he was wakened by more knocking at his door.

He pulled on sweat bottoms and answered it. It was Max.

“Sorry to disturb you again Mr. Stevens but I have to fill in this incident report.” he read out what he had written down. Harris had nothing to add.

“If you’ll sign here. I’ll take pictures of the damage for insurance purposes. That’s some bruise you’ve got there.”

“Yeah. It was her son that did this.”

“Sometimes it seems the universe has it in for us.” Max laughed.”

revised version:

“Harris pulled off his boxers and got into the shower. He’d had no time for one the last few days. He must have stunk when Awad was talking to him. Hot hot water then a fast icy blast and back to the hot. Detox his system faster from the pain meds. The bandage softened under the hot water and suds and he carefully eased it off. The bruise was bad but his ribs were merely tender when he cautiously soaped them. No spikes of pain.

He went on to the balcony to let the sun dry him. He finished off a bag of double chocolate walnut cookies wondering why the curse had reversed. Was that what happened if he didn’t fulfill an initial infatuation?  The busboy at Story came to mind. Alex. Fuck. That wasn’t the answer he was looking for.”

This is the end of a longer scene – a time for Harris to reflect on the curse, how it works, to realize there have been consquences he has to face. Some of the cuts were to tighten sentences – some were to remove extranious information – the cookies were more important than how he dries off on the balcony – I added a bit to the type cookies as junk food is important to Harris – ‘finished off’ is more telling about him than ‘ate from’ – his coversation with Max added nothing & took away from the strength of ‘That wasn’t the answer he was looking for.’

………

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