Most writers struggle through the rough drafts, and don’t even enjoy the relief when the story finally has an end, or celebrate when it’s finished. Why? Well of course, because the larger, and never ending editing, looms in front of us! Seems like most of our time is dedicated to this process, even though we wish it weren’t so.
Writing is a craft, and we need to work it, to bring out the shine of the story.
That’s what editing is – honing the story. Since so much time is spent in this realm, I decided to break it down and try to make it more magical.
First off you have the obvious word checking etc., but most of this can be done as the following are performed:
Make sure the chapters flow in a smooth time line. Follow the strings of your story, and check for gaps. If you began with an outline, this part is almost done, but not all writers use outlines (just ask Dean Koontz).
Take each scene and work it as if it were an individual work. Does it have a goal? It should have an objective or motivation. Then there needs some kind of reaction or internal struggle, or a conflict. Of course, end the scene with either some kind of disaster or solution – but it needs to be some kind of hook, to keep the reader wanting more… When there is a dilemma, the characters need to make a decision, to keep the story moving forward…
You know this, you say! Maybe so, but unless you look for the pattern, you may be missing it in some areas of the work, especially in long novels, and the lapse will drag the story. I unfortunately know this by my own trial and error. Also, as you review each scene, try to find the places to add dialogue or description to help strengthen the characters. In most scenarios, I delete a lot, and then go back and add too.
This sounds like common sense, but often we become so involved, that the ordinary flies out the window. I hope this just reminds you that writing is mostly editing, and it needs your careful attention. We all have our messy notes, our method of story telling – we can print pages to edit, or load into a reading device (or both) but the bottom line is we need to know what to watch for: