There has been a lot of talk of editing lately on the social media channels and I thought I’d throw in my two cents here. The bottom line?
If you don’t edit, you’re not a writer.
Being a writer is work and the more you put into your world or your stories the more you and everyone who reads it will get out of it.
The best and most fun part of writing is coming up with the story. This is what everyone wants to do when they first start writing. It doesn’t matter if you’re a poet, a genre author, or a serious literature progeny, the desire to write come from the love of creation. Your mind blossoms around ideas and, in general, the only way your mind will leave you alone is when you get those blossoming gems down on paper (or on the computer screen).
This process makes you creative, it does not make you a writer.
Editing makes you a writer. Editing is the work that needs to be put in. Writing professionally (it doesn’t matter if you make 500 or 5 Million a year, if you make money by your craft you’re a writer) is work, like it or not, and if you’re going to put your work out there, why would you not want it to be the best possible version of itself that I could be? If you were a handyman working on tile, would you want the tile crooked and mislaid? Could you be proud of that?
People edit in different ways, and editing means different things to different people, but since this is my blog, I’ll give you my process.
The first draft is an intensive and detailed outline. This outline is the creative version and generally the part I like the most. This will include dialog and notes to myself for what I want the story to contain and motivations for characters.
The second draft is what most people think of the first draft. This is the full story, with exposition and dialog and is fully fleshed out.
The third draft is the first edit. I go through and edit content. I streamline for readability, I clean up the dialog, I correct any grammar that catches my eyes, I double check my characters motivations, and ensure there are no continuity errors.
The fourth draft is the line edit.
Then there are about five more drafts where others will read it and give feedback and things will change around.
But the editing is the work. The editing is making sure that everything is perfect (lets be real nothing is ever perfect for a writer, but as close as possible). The editing is what makes the story real.
So if you don’t edit, you’re not a writer. You’re too lazy to be respectful to your reader. You’re showing them that you don’t really care about what you’ve created. You’re showing them that you don’t really care about the money or the time they’re going to spend on you.
Be a writer. Edit. Streamline. Work.