I am not a virgin when it comes to editing, nor am I cautious about moving things around. I love my read pen nearly as much as I love my delete button, but that doesn’t mean editing is easy. It’s a grueling task filled with self-doubt, second guessing, and a whole lot of faith.
When I edited Cedar for submission it involved a major revision to one specific character. It was time-consuming, but the scope was defined, my choices narrowed down to one character’s actions and motives. That is not the case with my newest WIP Inside Out.
The revisions to Inside Out are broad sweeping. They involve not only the tweaking of characters, but changes in timing and place. I need to remove entire chapters, delete and re-insert dialogue, and introduce a completely new character. In essence, I have hacked my masterpiece down to the bare bones, massacred its characters, and left them in a weeping pile of messy prose. Now I have to piece it back together, create something even better than the original. It is daunting, scary, and has me questioning every stroke of my pen.
It is times like these that my muse pops her head out, not with astounding dialogue or imaginative ideas, but with advice. I was sitting her last night, staring at a specific phrase, my finger hovering over the delete key afraid to actually take that definitive step. Then I remembered a piece of advice offered to me months back -- “Don’t be afraid to cut your favorite line.”
A good manuscript is not defined by a one amazing sentence, but a combination of characters, and situations, and astoundingly good prose. I have to trust that my other 72,000 words will make up for the seven-word sentence I finally did delete. So how about you -- do love or hate editing?