There’s really no sanity. I’m not just being histrionic. Really, I’m not. Editing is the fire-in-the-iron-poked-onto-flesh scorching kind of fun that leads to lunacy. Period. There is no more. That’s it. Really.
That’s not really it. I wouldn’t do that to ya.
So, hold on. Editing is the necessary evil that all writers need to do in order take ownership of their work. (Queue the sinister laughter)
WELCOME TO HELL!
There isn’t s set way to edit your work. We all have to do whatever it is that works best for us. Maybe that includes a monkey, maybe not. I won’t judge if it does. I have 5 key ways that editing has helped me. Sadly, none include a monkey. *makes frowny face, lowers head*
Don’t confuse this with hibernation or alliteration or alienation or any other “tion”. We don’t wanna do that here. After the, Hey, I wrote a fucking book! wohoo-sentiment wears off, do something else. Maybe hibernate. Yeah, that’s a complete contradiction, but…
In other words, do some other shit for a while. A. Long. While.
Write another book. Read books. Study physics. Travel the Earth in search of that Golden Unicorn that everyone is talking about. Oh, only me? Huh!
Put time between you and the book you wrote. Come back to it. Read it. I mean really read it. Read it like some other asshole wrote it. EDIT IT!
You need the clarity to edit that sucker like it’s not your own. Dig into it. Tear it apart. Remove the supreme sucktitude. Leave only entrails soup.
2. Have Someone Else Read It.
So, for this step, it’s preferred that a human being read your story. Why, you ask. Well, it’s proven that humans make very good editors. And readers.
Get their feedback. Take notes. You with the ADD, pay attention. Said feedback is essential. IT’S ESSENTIAL! See, if I didn’t capitalize that, it wouldn’t be important. Very important.
Pick anyone, maybe the twitchy guy in front of the drug store, to read it. Okay, maybe not him, but definitely the smelly guy at the end of the block. He can read it. Or WHOEVER. Get their thoughts. Get their notes. Read their notes.
Pro Tip: you’re gonna hate the living shit outta their notes. With a holy passion.
No, I mean really hate those notes. After you’ve read ‘em, put ‘em away. Far away. Bottom-of-the-drawer-tucked-in-the-back away. Capisce?
3. Do The Dreaded Re-Fucking-Read.
Yes, it’s time. Do it! You’ve reached the seriously dirty time to read your book again. Do it quickly. This is a merciless process. Target ALL the fuck-ups that will drag your book into the eternal abyss of the uncrapworthy.
Take notes. Make notes. Be sociopathic on errors. Highlight the bad and the good that actually works in your story. Even small successes are a motivator.
In those notes, write solutions to that bad writing: plot fixes, short rewrites, word changes, tick-tack-toe… oops, I mean don’t get bored and give up.
4. Pick An Option.
This is America. We have options. You have options on editing your book. Choose your approach: easiest shit first, get rid of the most atrocious fuckery first, kamikaze that sonofabitch from front-to-back, or back-to-front. PICK! Sorry, I wasn’t yelling at you. It was more for me. Sorry *bows head in apology*.
Remember those notes? Fine and read them. All of them. Pile the contradictions. You know, the ones that they say to remove the gun and the ones that say to add more guns. Then decide. Use your intuition.
And then edit from all those notes. Even the ones tucked far, far away.
5. Read it! Out Loud.
This isn’t stage presence reading. Just speak the words of your prose. Mumble if that’s your thing. Whatever! Just Do It Out Loud. This will help you catch any bumpiness, hitches, or awkwardness.
At this point, copy-edit as you go. Make the necessary changes. Remove fuck-ups, massage the sentences, change errors in spelling, punctuation, poor word choice, typos, sequential story logistics, structure, etc. Nip. Tuck, Tweak, Nipplepinch. Poke. Twist. Hammer. Beat it into submission. Wash, rinse and repeat. Twice if needed. More even.
Rrrrrrrrrrrr. Brakes squealing, marking the pavement. What did he just write up there? Sequential-what-the-hell?
Ahh, glad you caught that one. Sequential story logistics.
This has more to do with making sure that if there is a One, there has to be a Two, and then a Three-type thing in your story.
Let’s say your prose has a pink-laced thong. Most do, right, Just me? Ehhh. Anyway, if aforementioned pink-laced thong makes an appearance, then it should make another, and yet one more in your story. If not, then remove it completely. Huge pun intended. It’s Chekov’s Gun Principle in writing. Go and check it out. With your pink-laced thong in hand.
In other words, if it doesn’t have relevance to the piece, Get It Out. Period.
“I don’t get paid to edit. Never have. Never will. Never want to,” he screamed, kicking into the air as he was dragged from his computer. His fingers contorted in a multitude of aching, crinkled positions.