You know you've spent too much time editing when...

The writing process, writing advice, and updates on your work in progress
User avatar
cheekychook
Posts: 685
Joined: May 26th, 2010, 8:35 pm
Contact:

You know you've spent too much time editing when...

Post by cheekychook » August 22nd, 2010, 9:02 pm

I've been in the midst of an editing frenzy for my WIP for long enough that I've noticed a serious impact on my daily life, so I thought I'd start this thread. How can you tell when you've passed the limit of rational editing and entered into The Edit Zone?

You know you've spent too much time editing when....

you're having a conversation with friends and you feel like pointing out every time they say the word "just".

you're reading a published book or magazine article and you have to fight the urge to circle some unnecessary words to make a sentence tighter.

you read the blurb on the back of a book you've already read and you think "it would have sounded better if they'd switched the first two sentences."

you stop yourself while talking so you can think of a way to leave out the adverb you were about to say.
Image
http://www.karenstivali.com

Passionate Plume 1st Place Winner 2012 - ALWAYS YOU
Published with Ellora's Cave, Turquoise Morning Press & Samhain Publishing

johndavid
Posts: 29
Joined: July 26th, 2010, 11:19 pm
Contact:

Re: You know you've spent too much time editing when...

Post by johndavid » August 22nd, 2010, 9:34 pm

You know you spent too much time editing when...

Your book is down to twelve words.

User avatar
Quill
Posts: 1059
Joined: March 17th, 2010, 9:20 pm
Location: Arizona
Contact:

Re: You know you've spent too much time editing when...

Post by Quill » August 22nd, 2010, 9:52 pm

cheekychook, those are hilarious! Thanks for the fun.

And, that's great that you've gotten your ms. to that point!

------

johndavid, know what you mean. The incredible shrinking manuscript.


User avatar
J. T. SHEA
Moderator
Posts: 493
Joined: May 20th, 2010, 1:55 pm
Location: IRELAND
Contact:

Re: You know you've spent too much time editing when...

Post by J. T. SHEA » August 22nd, 2010, 10:43 pm

Johndavid, are you really sure you need all twelve words? Have you removed all the 'thats' and 'thens'? Could you divide it into a trilogy with four words per book?

User avatar
polymath
Posts: 1821
Joined: December 8th, 2009, 11:22 am
Location: Babel
Contact:

Re: You know you've spent too much time editing when...

Post by polymath » August 22nd, 2010, 11:02 pm

I edit a thousand pages a week and have for years and years, for a living. It's mostly nondiscretionary editing, a comma here, an extra one there, a misspelled word, a missing word like a particle word, or a subject/predicate agreement, a category agreement, a modifier without an object, all the mechanical minutia of Standard Written English. And there's several alternative standards of SWA for U.S. English. There's Modern Language Association, MLA. There's Chicago Manual of Style, and the Associated Press style manual, and many more derivative of one of those, each with variations each of my clients adheres to individually.

Several prefer serial comma A, B, and C, several prefer serial comma A, B and C. Several prefer numerals spelled out up to one hundred, several prefer only zero through ten. Ordinals and cardinals. Each client has widely differing one word, two words, hyphenated word standards. Antiinflamatory, anti inflamatory, anti-inflamatory. And standard usage or variant word usage preferences, gray, grey, adjustor, adjuster, etc., and variant dashes and ellipsis points and quotation marks and italics usages, and so on and so forth ad nauseam.

I've had work-related waking nightmares from my restauteur days, still do every now and then, but never an editor nightmare. Okay, except when editing a nightmarishly written composition for a grammar challenged writer. Several college assignments required coediting classmates' work, a teamwork exercise for vocational indoctrination purposes. Yikes, ten or more nondiscretionary edits in one sentence and several hands of pages of it.

My bread and butter editing work is some of the dryest reading known to humankind, but I find it exhilarating because of the manifold nuances written word can portray. I hear eyebrows beating, yelling, whispers, clashing personalities, flirting, tones of voice. I see unremarked gestures, body movements, body language, physical appearances, and what the people are wearing, what their settings look like even though they're not described.

When editing my creations, I don't cool my heels polishing grammar. It comes second nature to me. I can overlook grammar deficiencies when reading others' creative works because that step is the last logical step of polishing a manuscript, it's gonna change on the way. Editing for mechanical style is time wasted on the way to a fully-realized narrative.

First priority is big picture issues of craft, flair, reader rapport, narrative point of view, narrative distance, narrative voice, plot, structure and aesthetics and artistic nuances, dramatic magnitude, unity, causation, tension, antagonism, engaging openings and introductions, inciting crisis, rising action, tragic crisis, climax, falling action, final crisis, denouement, and whether there's a satisfying payoff, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. The checklist is longer than that, but that's an outline I use. Once I've been through the macro stuff I move on to the middle dramatic unit ranges, then micro dramatic units, with the same checklist. The last editing step before submission is the mechanical minutia.

A sentence clause is a small dramatic unit. Sentence fragments are the smallest dramatic units. They have rudiments of the big picture attributes like fractal tessalations of the larger shape. When a sentence like Ernest Hemingway's famous micro fiction story can be a complete dramatic unit in and of itself, the power of single phrases is apparent. "For sale: baby shoes; never worn." Six words, three punctuation marks, beginning, middle, ending. There's setting, plot, idea, character, and event, causation, tension, antagonism, and magnitude implied. Just enough information to get it, and artful gaps left for readers' creative visions to bridge the writer's creative vision. A sublime, beautifully tragic story. Anyway, that's what every individual clause ought to do and build up into a glorious synergy, every sentence, every paragraph, every section, every chapter, every book, every novel, every installment. Many get there, not a few don't.

I've never spent too much time editing my work. I've spent not enough, most often realizing late there's missing and superflouus material, because I didn't know better, because I was underequipped, because I didn't have the insight into reader expectations and cultural coding conventions necessary to the task. I'm better now.
Spread the love of written word.

Down the well
Posts: 516
Joined: June 10th, 2010, 3:22 pm
Contact:

Re: You know you've spent too much time editing when...

Post by Down the well » August 23rd, 2010, 9:11 am

I'm not the most grammatically evolved individual, but I admit I never turn off the editor in my head.

I think the guy who did this could have spent a little more time in the edit zone:


Image

johndavid
Posts: 29
Joined: July 26th, 2010, 11:19 pm
Contact:

Re: You know you've spent too much time editing when...

Post by johndavid » August 23rd, 2010, 9:59 am

J. T. SHEA wrote:Johndavid, are you really sure you need all twelve words? Have you removed all the 'thats' and 'thens'? Could you divide it into a trilogy with four words per book?

You have me thinking now. Guess I'll go back through it a couple more times!

User avatar
Robin
Posts: 315
Joined: April 8th, 2010, 9:09 pm
Location: Atlanta, GA
Contact:

Re: You know you've spent too much time editing when...

Post by Robin » August 23rd, 2010, 11:51 am

When your eyes cross.
Robin
"A glass slipper is only a shoe. Dreamers who only dream never have their dreams come true."

http://www.RobynLucas.com/

User avatar
dios4vida
Posts: 1119
Joined: February 22nd, 2010, 4:08 pm
Location: Tucson, Arizona, USA
Contact:

Re: You know you've spent too much time editing when...

Post by dios4vida » August 23rd, 2010, 12:06 pm

You know you've spent too much time editing when you interrupt your husband's rant on work to correct his word usage.

(True story.)
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

User avatar
Mira
Posts: 1354
Joined: December 7th, 2009, 9:59 am
Contact:

Re: You know you've spent too much time editing when...

Post by Mira » August 23rd, 2010, 5:19 pm

Ha! These are funny.

When you start red-lining a company memo from HR, tell them it's a good first draft, and ask HR to resubmit when it's cleaned up.

User avatar
Heather B
Posts: 234
Joined: May 23rd, 2010, 7:56 pm
Location: Newcastle - the Australian one.
Contact:

Re: You know you've spent too much time editing when...

Post by Heather B » August 23rd, 2010, 6:59 pm

Oh Lord, Mira. *shakes head* I do that too.
Journey to the Cuckoo's Nest

http://heathermbryant.blogspot.com.au/

User avatar
polymath
Posts: 1821
Joined: December 8th, 2009, 11:22 am
Location: Babel
Contact:

Re: You know you've spent too much time editing when...

Post by polymath » August 23rd, 2010, 8:20 pm

When you can't remember whether the standard spelling is committed or commited, gravely or gravelly, scared or scarred, accommodating or acomodating.

When you can't distinguish whether that is used as a pronoun, a conjunction, an adjective, an adverb, descriptively as a preposition, nor punctuate accordingly.
Spread the love of written word.

Sommer Leigh
Moderator
Posts: 1624
Joined: April 2nd, 2010, 11:07 pm
Location: Omaha, NE
Contact:

Re: You know you've spent too much time editing when...

Post by Sommer Leigh » August 23rd, 2010, 9:41 pm

When you're talking to your high school English teacher husband about his students' homework and you helpfully say, "These are good...but they overuse unnecessary adverbs. Their writing would be stronger if..."

And then he snatches the papers out of your hand and tells you that, "You can't teach a lesson on adverbs by removing all the adverbs."


(There might have also been something about going back to Crazy Author Land to deport my own adverbs but to keep my nose out of his editorial business.)
May the word counts be ever in your favor. http://www.sommerleigh.com
Be nice, or I get out the Tesla cannon.

User avatar
Beethovenfan
Posts: 322
Joined: August 23rd, 2010, 11:45 pm
Contact:

Re: You know you've spent too much time editing when...

Post by Beethovenfan » August 23rd, 2010, 11:47 pm

Hmm, I've only done a couple of those things. Guess I need to go edit my MS a bit more!
"Don't only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets, for it and knowledge can raise men to the divine."
~ Ludwig van Beethoven

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest