4 Things I Have Learnt About Editing
1. I was smarter when I was writing. When I edit I seem to always be scolding myself for foolish ideas that I threw on to the page at the time. Often i cross these out, smugly, because I know better than That idiot who wrote this shit, right? Wrong. Apparently the “pantser” who wrote this magnificent garbage is actually quite good at setting up punchlines well in advance - he is a serial foreshadower.
2. That guy wants to tell you everything. There is, of course, an information overload. Every little trick or turn which came into my brain while writing clearly went onto the page. As someone who likes to draft things because that means putting off the real work until later I understand why I did it. However, I was a cunt to do it to myself.
3. Chapters are important. Turns out a whole novel as a lump of text doesn’t necessarily work for me while editing. Sticking a nice “Chapter Two - The Delightful Buggery” (or similar) helps give weight and space - it also adds an artificial sense of motion. Every time something “ends” I can stick a new chapter heading in and feel that I’ve “won” that chapter to a greater or lesser degree. One of the most important edits I have made has been to carve the work into narrative chunks which huddle together narratively.
4. I missed out all the important stuff.This links to point #2 really. Why didn’t I include those important flashback, but did include those stupid in-jokes about tea-bagging for my friends? One answer is, of course, I was just trying to write the thing and any little pick-me-up on the way was welcomed (albeit stupid or puerile).
What have you learnt editing, that I need to know about before it hits me in the face during the next session? Leave me a comment, or just foreshadow what will befall me… or you could always ask me a question: http://cjeggett.co.uk/ask