Rambling Advice on Editing: #FicFest Update

I have zero desire to write this blog post, but I’m doing it anyway. I skipped/missed last week’s post, somewhere between laziness, picking up my (almost) mother-in-law for her month long stay, and furiously editing my manuscript for FicFest. So as I write this week’s, and I figure as long as I keep rambling, something will come out.

That’s what they say about writing habits every day, right? Just start writing anything, and the flow will come.

But anyway. Let’s talk about FicFest updates.

I received my edit letter almost a week ago… wow, has it been only a week? Yikes. It feels like it’s been longer. Anyway, I got the edit letter, and it’s been a little bit like having free access to crack ever since. It’s impossible to pull away. I’m definitely editing on the sly at work. I’ll find myself reading over her edits and making changes for hours and don’t even remember how I got there. It helps that she’s so freaking smart and spot on about everything.

I’ve run into my first problem, however: knowing the difference between a good change that improves my craft and story, and knowing when a change will alter the ‘heart’ of my story too much. I think it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of comments by a mentor, an editor, a beta reader — whatever you’re happening to read over in that moment.

I don’t really know the answer to this yet, but I have gotten some great tips from writer friends and family.

My first piece of advice, coming directly from me, is this:

Read through all the advice and suggestions. Then, take a step back. Take each edit one at a time, and only that one at a time. Take the one suggestion and work only on that until it’s done (and maybe give yourself a time limit if you’re a super-perfectionist). Don’t try to do everything at once as you’re moving through your manuscript.

 

I started with finishing the line edits, and have just moved onto the overall suggestions; right now I’m working on making my setting more vivid (and ONLY on the setting). Once that’s done, I’m moving onto making a particular character from the past have a little more influence on the future, to not be quite so shrouded. Then I’ll be working on this one character quirk that needs to be further explained.

Do you see what I mean? Focusing on one aspect makes it a lot easier to digest and implement. I’m finding I’m not nearly so overwhelmed, and I can see each comment more clearly as what it is: advice, and intelligent suggestion.

Another piece of advice that really rung true for me was this:

Take each suggestion at face value (again: only one at a time) and look at it through the lens of what story YOU are trying to tell (you’ve probably heard this advice a hundred times, but for some reason this really hit me as helpful).

Be open to all suggestions and improvements. Consider everything carefully, after a few days to digest the comments you’ve received. Come at your story after a deep breath and a step back. Determine what kind of story comes across to the reader, and if it’s the story YOU want to tell. Some suggestions may change the story to feel like something else, or the characters to be like other people. It could be good. It could be great. Or it may change something too much.

Don’t cut off your nose in spite of your face, but keep true to the story you are trying to tell.

 

Does anyone else struggle with finding this balance? What’s your method to work it out? How about my FicFest friends, how are you all doing?

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About R. K. Brainerd

I've been writing since my pre-teens, mostly in the realm of fantasy and sci-fi. My characters are pretty much always clamoring for attention in my head, and if I don't listen to them, they plague me with insane dreams and nightmares until I start writing. I also raise dairy goats, the evidence of which can be found on my Instagram. I've just recently begun my foray into the writing world and look forward to it all with devilish glee. Welcome to the adventure. View all posts by R. K. Brainerd

4 responses to “Rambling Advice on Editing: #FicFest Update

  • TahaniNelson

    This is a fantastic post. I don’t really have anything to add, as you covered all the points beautifully. But I will empathize for a minute, if I can. I, too, have let my beta readers’ opinions influence my writing– once or twice to the point where it no longer felt like the world I’d set out to create. I didn’t know what to do at the time, since I know that my beta’s were just trying to help, and their opinions definitely had merit. But eventually I had to write the characters to reflect who they were, and sometimes they did the wrong things because that’s just the type of person they are (I know how crazy it sounds. Really. But I honestly feel like that book wrote itself, sometimes. I could not make the characters different anymore than I can train my cats). Now, I’m trying to publish that same book, and the betas that helped me agree that how it turned out was how it should have. Most of them have even been kind enough to pre-order the book (which is how I’m covering publishing costs). So, I guess it all worked out for the best.

    Anyway, thanks for posting. I know how hard it is sometimes, but as long as your characters keep talking to you in your head, you’ll do them justice. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • R. K. Brainerd

      I’m glad you were able to figure out the balance between the two in listening to criticism and sticking to your story! (And I like characters making stupid choices. It’s very real).

      Thank you for responding and adding your input! I’m glad you liked the post. It’s neat to hear your journey with this 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  • jennabrownson

    My cell phone’s screen saver reads: “One Thing” to remind me to focus on just the one. It works for all things, and very much so for writing. Power on.

    Liked by 1 person

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