Because I am not sane (who is?), I edited a book last week. Yup, 100,000 words went under scrutiny for 7 days.
15,000 words lost their lives.
(What? I’m allowed to be dramatic. I am a writer after all.)
The death toll was pretty impressive. It wasn’t a messy draft, per se, actually it was a rewrite of a rewrite’s rewrite, so what it called for was a line edit. Buuuut, I don’t usually line-edit that much so fast. With our leaving-town date approaching (two more days until we leave! Eep!), I had to edit and edit fast.
Basically, my eyeballs fell out. But I did it.
I’m torn between loving editing and hating it, so I thought I’d
inflict show you how I went last week. It’s not always so crazy (okay, who am I kidding? It is too), but this is the basic process of Editing With Cait & Co.
(Yes, I did just say “co”. We all have our gollums and preciouses.)
1. Get up super early so you can start editing by 7:00am. That’s 60 minutes of uninterrupted time before breakfast. (Yes, I measure things by how-long-between-meals. Doesn’t everyone?)
2. Learn saying, “he stood up” or “he sat down” is redundant. Just say “he stood”. LIGHTBULB, is it not? I cut a billion and nine words using this.
3. You don’t have to narrate every. single. action. Gosh! It’s way too tedious. “He stood up and moved towards the tree, hanging his longbow in the branches.” Whyyyyy do you need it?! Just say, “He hung his longbow in the tree.” I am learning, blogglings, I swear I am learning.
4. Recruit Mime to come edit a page. Take 15 minutes over 300 words (granted, we were laughing a lot and making fun of my writing. Hey…wait. That’s not fair).
5. Sever all social engagements.
6. Laugh at typos. Honestly, I had one sentence like this: “I see the flash of his sword, hear the surprised whine of the creature, and the sand me goes black.” I have nooo idea what I was trying to say. I cut it. I found a lot of things I didn’t understand, so I just cut them. CUT THEM ALL.
7. The definition of “deep and meaningful characters” does NOT need to include reflections on life and the blue sky. This is all poetic…but kind of useless, you know? My narrator is supposed to be bouncy and full of possibilities — but detailed paragraphs about how the blue sky makes you feel doesn’t qualify.
8. Piggybacking off the last one: If it is in anyway remotely boring, DESTROY IT. If your eyes flick over it, DESTROY IT. If it incorporates secretive quotes to display your inner geek, KEEP IT.
9. You can’t read. There’s just not enough time or brain or eyeball power to read and write. As a result, my TBR pile languished and my library card spat at me. And I was very sad. I’m not longer 22% ahead in my reading goals. (What? I like to be ahead.)
10. Bribes do work. One chapter = a drink of water. Two chapters = chocolate. Three chapters = Pinterest time. Four chapters = tomb.
11. Early nights. Or the early mornings are a killer.
12. Take note of “pet words”. Mine are “flick” and “shake”. I use them every. single. page. I wish I was exaggerating! But no. The amount of “I flick my eyes to the left” or “I flick a glance at him” I did makes me want to resign.
13. Sleep is for the weak. Don’t do that.
14. Complete your edit of 100,000 words in 7-days and attempt to rejoin society. If it doesn’t work, I hear hermits get nice shacks in the middle of nowhere. (Caves are also an option.)
I know what’s going through your head right now. Yeah, it’s true…
Cait has spent today away from books/computers/editing and has been looking after humans under 3 feet tall. (They’re called “children” not “Hobbits”, unfortunately.) She is also packing for her holiday, which is a stressful task. What if she forgets an important book?! Currently, she is not reading but wants to watch World-War-Z or The Odd Life of Timothy Green. She thrives on diversity.