Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Ask Trish Almost Anything Pt4

Dear Trish

When it's time to edit, do you ever feel like you're being asked to cut parts of the book that you really love?

*hoping that question made sense :Þ*

Dear Jackie

It did INDEED make sense! And lemme tell you, editing is something nearly every writer learns - after time - is an art unto itself. Writing the book in the first place can seem easy peasy in comparison!!!

One of the things I do a lot as regular visitors here will know, is refer back to films. Like I do for instance in my Backwards Casting Method... And I learnt a lot about editing by watching those deleted scenes you get on DVD extras... Watch the movie/TV Show and then watch what they took out and it pretty much ALWAYS makes sense and you can understand WHY they made the decision to cut a particular scene. And the same things matter when it comes to editing... though editing for yourself when the book is done and editing it once revision notes come along can be two very different thing ;) TRUST ME.

When you're editing for yourself BEFORE the book goes it can be a bad case of *wood for the trees* cos you'll have lived with the story for so long you'll be emotionally attached to what you've done and won't want to let go of things that felt like pure genius when you first wrote them... HOWEVER once you read the story through from start to finish knowing more about your characters as one inevitably does by the end (mainly cos the slippery little suckers won't play at the start and then pop in to tell you something you DIDN'T KNOW half way through - bless their cotton socks...) you may well find that genius scene is unnecessary...darnnit!

So what goes and what stays??? I should admit at this point that I NEVER delete ANYTHING out of all existance. EVER. I keep an *editing* file for each book and I c&p my deleted scenes into there in the hope that they can be used again with a little tweaking. This is also jolly useful when you come to edit and discover one scene is in too early but would work later on ;) So when I'm working on a book I'll have three word doc files open - one with the story in it - one for edits - and one with the collage I made in it...
Next up I should mention I very rarely if ever go over word count in a first draft. So if a scene gets deleted it better have been from the *allow myself to write twaddle to get through the slump* stage of creation and it will then be replaced with something that makes more sense ;) Then I ask myself the usual questions:
1/ Does it reveal anything about the characters?

2/ Does it reveal anything about the characters that could have been revealed somewhere else by simple inner pov or through a conversation with a secondary character?

3/ Does it move the story forwards?

4/ Does it show a development in the relationship?

5/ Does it follow on correctly from the last scene or is it too much of a leap?

6/ Can it be shortened to do the exact same thing in 2k it had previously done in 4???

I work the whole way through the MS following those basic rules and then I remove the usual b-a-d-Trishism's which tend to be too many sentences starting with 'And' - the word AGAIN - and the word THAT which should be removed from the flipping English dictionary imho - oh and in times of crisis when close to upper limit word count we make all can not's into can'ts and do not's into don'ts etc etc etc...

That's PRE-read by lovely editor. THEN POST- read come the revision notes and we edit and revise at the same time which is a different process. THIS is where I will often feel physical pain and cringe and grit my teeth lots and force myself to let go of some things. Mind you - sometimes I love them soooooooo much I merely get creative ;) Either way I know my lovely ed is on the side of the best book so I do what has to be done. Hiding doesn't get it done at this point. I know. I've tried.

So now I will have four word files open when I work - the initial three plus one with the revisions bullet points which I high-light as I complete, working through from beginning to end so the book still makes sense. In theory. This is especially important if part of the revisions involve me removing a thread that runs the whole way through the darn book - which happens with me. Trust me again.
Nooowwww if the scene's gotta go its gotta go. But sometimes, when in your heart of hearts you know it matters you've just gotta sit down and have an ikkle think about how you can make it work with the revision notes. This can be tough when you're a newbie, but without tempting fate on my next set of revisions I do think your instincts improve a little as you get some experience under your belt. That's not to say you won't still get it wrong... Lemme give you an example of the bad and the good for me in the last two books I worked on - in Gabe's book Claimed By The Billionaire Bad Boy I had a scene where they made out on a swing (heads outta the gutter ladies they were childhood friends so it was symbolic - okay!!!) and in the re-write it got cut - much as it killed me. But on the revisions of the re-write my lovely ed suggested it go back in and she was BANG ON (which somewhat irritatingly she always is I should add) with a little tweaking - which naturally I was GLAD to do! But in my last Romance book we just sold - The Millionaire's Proposal - we had a scene she suggested could go that I kinda loved lots so I had to find a way to make it work so I could sneak it past... and with a look at her revision notes I GOT IT... aha! Ahahahahaha!!!
So we live and learn Jackie and the short answer would have been YES...but you've *met me*...
More answers from Ask Trish Almost Anything coming up... and you can still keep 'em coming if you like. Meanwhile I'm almost finished with competition winner Janet's partial and it's going GREAT and I have a collage and soundtrack made for my next Romance so I'm good to go soon as I *hopefully* get the nod on the prop from my lovely Ed... ;)


Natasha said...

See, now that is interesting. My process is very different. I work very steadily and edit as I go. Just the one file. If I 'feel' I've gone wrong I need to go back and fix it immediately. If I have a new idea I need to go back and comb it through.

Where, BTW, are you finding these cat pictures?????

Natasha said...

oh and here's the YouTube distraction of the day:

Cole said...

Hi Trish! I know this sounds trite - but the longer I write the 'easier(if there is such a thing) it is to 'see' what needs to come out. Like you point out - after everything is written and I know my characters better it is much easier to truly 'edit' those extras out. My real thing though, is saving those tidbits - I just save them in an 'extra' file automatically if I'm having any doubts about taking something out... makes it so much easier and I feel better. Then the editing is tons easier on my emotionally. =)


Trish said...

Interesting you do it so differently Natasha... see I couldn;t work like that with everything *perfect* before I move on... I'd NEVER get ANYTHING finished in half the time I currently do. Horses for courses methinks ;)

And Cat Pictures are strictly-need-to-know and GET OFF YOUTUBE DEAR GOD!!!!!!!

Ahhhh Nicole another THING WE DO SIMILARLY!!! Yet another reason why we get on so well ;)

jackietoo said...


Thanks so very much for answering my question! Even though I'm a little late in getting to read it. :Þ My niece came to visit and accidentally did bad things to my puter, but all is well so I don't have to rearrange any of her body parts. :D

Your answer leads me to believe that one of a writer's greatest blessings is an editor that "gets" what the writer is trying to do.

Maybe you should instigate "Give Your Editor a Hug" Day. :D

JackieToo said...

Oh! To all you Americans out there, "HAPPY THANKSGIVING!". And to everyone else, why not stop to count your blessings anyway? IMHO, it's something we all need to do more often. :D

Have a wondrous day!