Things I Do While Editing

This is with pretty much every book I’ve ever written. One day, I hope to learn from my mistakes and really streamline the process, but I’m working on what will be my seventh published book (sixth solo, and but eleventh if you count novellas) and I’m still doing all these things.

1. I always have a few drafts where I work really hard to keep sentences I like. I move them around. I make them more important. I insist they’re part of the story.

I spend the next few drafts hunting them down and undoing all the work I did to support those sentences. At that point, it’s like trying to separate tree roots. Very complicated, delicate work. But necessary.

Ultimately, I have to concede those sentences don’t add to the story. They’re not even darlings, really. I like them, but I don’t love them. And yet, I work way harder than necessary in order to keep them, just so I can chop them out later.

2. I make the book looooonnggerrrrrr. I add and add while I figure out subtle pieces of the plot and motivations. I explain things to the reader (and myself) right there on the page . . .

And then I spend the next few drafts making the book shorter.

Because all that exploration and explaining is useful for me, but not useful for the finished book. It’s basically my notes: for me, but not for the reader.

3. I am totally bored by my book.

And I absolutely love my book.

This doesn’t necessarily go draft to draft. This is minute to minute. All it takes is working on a part I’ve been over fifty times, and ugh, are we still on this part? Why is this part so boring? But then I get to a section I haven’t worked on in a while and the hearts are back in my eyes.

Oh books.

It’d be really nice to streamline my process, go through fewer drafts and write that elusive perfect first draft, but that’s not how writing works for me. I do a zillion drafts because without every single one of them, I’d miss important details that take time to develop and find their way into the story. I’d miss all the going back and forth on ideas that eventually lead me to an even better third option. And, in the end, I’d miss getting to really feel and understand the story–that love for a story that only grows with time.

Draft fifty million, here I come.

What’s your favorite (or least favorite) part about revisions? 


5 Responses to Things I Do While Editing

  1. Sandy Hogarth Aug 3 2016 at 6:15 am #

    What a relief to read this. I’m technically on the first re-draft of my second book. By that I mean I’ve finished, to the end the first draft but that includes many redrafts of parts along the way. I have been cursing the way I wrote my first draft – with massive notes for alterations on the MS.
    My sentiments have been the same as yours:boredom, frustration and excitement as I find myself adding depth and complexity and wondering if I’ll ever get to the end again.
    Thank you.
    Sandy Hogarth, author of The Glass Girl

    • Jodi Aug 4 2016 at 7:55 am #

      Oh you are far from the only one! I don’t know one writer who loves their book with their whole heart every step of the way through. And I know several who swing into full hate! That doesn’t mean it’s not a good book. That just means we’re human, and sometimes we’d rather be working on Shiny and New. 🙂

  2. Tracy Auerbach Aug 3 2016 at 7:16 pm #

    My least favorite part of revisions is going over a scene AGAIN and AGAIN that I realize won’t be clear to the reader… But I can’t exactly pinpoint why.

    • Jodi Aug 4 2016 at 7:56 am #

      Oh gosh, yes, that is so frustrating!

  3. Alexa S. Aug 16 2016 at 11:12 am #

    Revisions are a complicated thing, I find. It’s so hard to keep tweaking a draft, particularly if (or when, in my case) you get really attached to how you’ve written a certain line or moment or scene. I tend to do something similar to you in that I write notes to myself about certain scenes and then try to edit it later on to either explain it better or make it shorter 🙂

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