Just like with writing there are a lot of different ways to handle doing any kind of editing work. Some projects require a lot of work to polish up; some show up pretty polished. There’s no wrong way to do it so long as you get the work done. But sometimes you get stuck and don’t know what to do to fix a piece of writing.
Right now I am finishing up edits on a novella that has given me a ton of problems. I mean this thing really kicked my ass. The first draft I did was a disaster. I tried to fix it but it still ended up being a mess. Now after several more failed attempts at revision, I think I’ve finally figured out what went wrong and how to fix it. So I wanted to talk about the process of realizing what exactly I needed to work on.
For this book, I kept walking away from my edits and just not doing them. That’s not like me since I’m usually pretty focused and committed to meeting deadlines. But this time around, I didn’t manage to focus on it at all. So I decided to test something.
I started my edits at a different point in the book then came back to the beginning. What that showed me was that the problem was that the beginning of the book was all wrong and that was forcing me to walk away. I didn’t know how to fix the problem because the problem wasn’t a lack of descriptions but a big ol’ plot problem.
As soon as I realized the problem was that I as the writer didn’t care about the villain then I knew what needed to change. I had to find a way to make me (and thus hopefully the reader) care about the monster and the story happening in that tension.
What sucks about that, is that it means I need to rewrite about a good chunk of the book but now that I can pinpoint ‘this is where I am struggling’ it makes it sudden;y feel like a problem I can solve. I’ve been stuck in the idea of ‘I don’t know what’s wrong so I can’t fix it’ and that just leads to a lot of stress.
So for me to get unstuck what I needed to do was look into different parts of the book and then come back to the spot I was getting stuck. It showed me what the problem was and how I could fix it.