My New Editing Trick

My poor neglected blog, sitting here unused for so long. I’d feel bad about it but part of the reason it is neglected is because I have been putting so much time into writing other things that I haven’t been able to do anything here. The reason I am typing anything for it now is because writing a novel is hard and every so often it can feel completely impenetrable and so what I am actually doing right now is procrastinating. I have been trying to work on the novel every day and on the days when I don’t I have been writing short stories instead. I seem to have some good momentum and I want to keep it up. A little while ago I challenged my niece to write 500 words a day about absolutely anything, just so that when it is time to write an essay she would already be in a bit of a groove. So I have been trying to keep my own advice and writing at least 500 words a day – which really isn’t a lot – but some days is easier than others.

The novel that I am working on started as a NanoWriMo project but I think that kind of speed writing doesn’t really suit me. Almost everything I wrote is unusable. The general structure is fine, but the actual words, the actual sentences, there’s hardly anything there at all. So I have pretty much started it from scratch and now, 25,000 words in, I am flagging a little.

So like I said, I wrote some short stories and one of them has turned out pretty well I think. I read it aloud to my wife and she thought it was okay so I spent some time tidying it up and getting it good. I don’t have many writing techniques that I use, mostly I am just winging it, but something happened when I was doing a second sweep of this one that I think I might try and keep in mind for future writing. I was doing a read through and I kept coming across sentences that felt wrong but it was hard to know what was actually wrong with them. I would read them aloud and they would just clang a little. So what I decided to do, because it was late and I was tired and I really wanted to go and play Overwatch before bed, was just highlight them in yellow and then come back them later. So I saved my draft with its dozen yellow sentences and walked away.

The next day I sat down and read through it again and this time I could see instantly and exactly what I needed to do with all of those highlighted sentences. I deleted them. Everything that I had highlighted in yellow just needed to be gone. That was what was bugging me about them the night before, they just didn’t belong there. Instantly the whole story tightened up. It was like it lost weight and now you could see some definition in its shoulders.

So I think I’m going to try this again in the future. Highlight anything that seems off and then delete it in the morning.

Oh and hey, I just went and worked on the novel for half an hour and I figured out a major plot point that had really been causing me problems. I’m on fire. Now I’m going to go and play Overwatch.

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