When to edit yourself?

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klbritt
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When to edit yourself?

Post by klbritt » June 7th, 2012, 11:04 am

I'm up to 80K on my MS right now and am thinking I've gone down a path that I never wanted to when I first started writing it. Is it best to finish the MS then go back and edit the material that I don't think I want, or is it best to go back now to edit, before I've finished it?

~Kristie
~Kristie

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Re: When to edit yourself?

Post by Sommer Leigh » June 7th, 2012, 12:28 pm

Kristie-

The answer is - it depends. Both options are fine. It depends on the kind of writer you are.

The trap is we all get to the end of our manuscripts and know there's something we are going to have to go back and change. That's a first draft for you. If you always stop at that point and go back and fix before finishing, you might never finish. That's the trap.

If you know there's something fundamental about the story you're going to change and finishing is a waste of time because you're practically writing a different story, it might be better to go back, so long as you really ask yourself if it's something that can be fixed in draft 2. If it can be fixed later, finish the manuscript.

Some writers, though, are not hardwired to finish and go back. I am one of those sorts of writers. When big changes need to be made, I become paralyzed from moving forward until I've made the fix. It means I edit a lot as I write and the first half of the book ends up being a lot more polished when I do finish. That's fine, so long as I finish.

So it depends on the kind of writer you are and the kind of changes you need to make.
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polymath
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Re: When to edit yourself?

Post by polymath » June 7th, 2012, 1:01 pm

Invariably, intuitive writer or deliberate writer, a plot plan goes down a different track than it started on. Part of why is because the subconsious will be heard. Every day if not every moment is a new experience subconsciously influencing writing: the sublime, the good, the bad, and the ugly moments private and public environments subconsciously impose on the writing process.

Part of why is because writing is a learning process as well as an end in and of itself. After eighty thousand words of writing, if an appreciable degree of writing skill strengthening hasn't happened, I'd be surprised.

For a best practice solution, consider whether finishing first is more productive or revisiting what's already on the page first is more productive. This phase for me is when I revisit a narrative's plan: craft and voice. What is the ending looking to become? Does it tie up with the beginning? The middle? This is where confidently knowing the major problem wanting satisfaction comes to bear (dramatic complication).

Does every chapter, every paragraph, every sentence, every word bear on the dramatic complication? If the dramatic complication is weakly developed, craft is shy of the mark. I'd rewrite from the beginning once I have a strong handle on the complication.

Does the voice suit the complication? I.e., is the narrative distance too open, too much in narrator voice and not enough or at all in character voice? If the voice is too remote, voice is on point. Probably from too much expository summary and explanation recital and not enough scene imitation portrayal. In other words, the writing summarizes the action through telling it as if from a lectern to an audience. A shorthand version, so to speak, of the action written in a rush to capture the drama's essence. If so, then I'd finish writing, assuming I have the dramatic complication managed, then return and rewrite for strengthening the voice.
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Re: When to edit yourself?

Post by Mark.W.Carson » June 7th, 2012, 3:02 pm

My rule is "Will it break your story if you don't do this now?" then go and edit it, so long as you believe you are going to finish.

However, I have not yet finished, and I have revised my story 11 previous times, and I can see about 2 more (I'm on my twelfth). A lot of this is about being new, and not planning things appropriately.

I'm certain that if I were to start on a new MS, I would probably have about 3-5 rewrites and not 12-16.

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Re: When to edit yourself?

Post by klbritt » June 7th, 2012, 4:44 pm

Thanks all for the great advice! I think finishing my MS will be direction I go right now, saving the editing until finished.

~Kristie
~Kristie

-: Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read - Groucho Marx :-

http://www.BKRivers.blogspot.com

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Re: When to edit yourself?

Post by Mark.W.Carson » June 7th, 2012, 6:58 pm

Here's some more advice:

Keep a file for your characters. Who they are, what they are like, their back story, etc. Anybody more important than the mailman (unless he's also an assassin sent to kill your MC and is involved in a 30 page chase through the streets of South Hampton) should have an entry.

Keep a "Basis" file. The major plot points, and things that intersect with the plot, even if not 100% related to the story.

Keep a "Need to Edit" file, so you make notes on things you plan on fixing or changing, or alternately put those notes in a different font and color in your main file.

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Re: When to edit yourself?

Post by G B Miller » June 17th, 2012, 5:42 pm

I edit as I write. I know that sounds wrong, but this is how I do it.

As I progress with a story, I'll often print out the pages that I've written and whenever I find the time at work (breaks and lunch) or any down time on the weekends, I'll go back and write editing notes on the hard copy. As a rule, I don't apply my edits until I'm done with the first draft, but if I wind up being stuck for a lenghty period of time or if I have to put it on the back burner when something else has to take precedence then come back to it weeks later, I'll apply the edits in order to refresh my memory.
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Sleeping Beauty
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Re: When to edit yourself?

Post by Sleeping Beauty » June 18th, 2012, 5:25 am

I'm gonna echo everyone else and say: edit when it feels organic. Personally, I would have a mini-meltdown over letting my word count runaway with words I can't ultimately use - I edit as I go, because I simply find it easier to have something more polished when I finish the first draft.

That said, don't delete any of the leftover plot-threads/scenes - keep it all in its own file, because you'll never know where you might be able to slot those in - even in different projects!

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