Saturday, June 04, 2011

Editing versus Writing

The last few weeks I have been editing A Clouded Skye. I certainly feel that the work has been strengthened with the edits, however, I miss the sheer joy of hammering out page after page of fresh story. Part of me feels like I'm not even writing when I'm editing, like its cheating or avoiding actually writing something.

But another part of me understands that the book you see on the shelf had multiple edits and drafts. In the original draft of A Clouded Skye, I had a musical instrument get destroyed protecting Skye in a fight scene against some highway robbers. She beat the robbers and then generously helped those she had wounded. Upon the following draft, I drastically altered the scene to have her run from the robbers rather than fight them, feeling that it was more in character for her to run. The deleted scene made her appear downright skilled as a fighter, which she isn't, and over the top compassionate, which she also isn't. She will certainly help a friend or a starving child, after all, she was one herself as a kid. But helping an enemy was too large of a stretch. So the fight had to go.

And in removing the fight, that musical instrument and its various references scattered throughout the rest of the story potentially had to be altered. I came close to deleting the references but felt that they showed her affection to a broken instrument that saved her life. Instead I had to add the lute back to the robbery scene but have it save her life in her escape from the robber's ambush. But I still have to review all of the other references in the story to ensure that they accurately reflect the knew reality of this inanimate character's role in Skye's narrative.

Editing takes a lot of work. Changing one thing creates ripples of other edits throughout the work. But if it makes the story better, then it's worth it, even if I'd rather be writing the next crazy idea in my head. There's too many stories floating around up there and not enough time to write them all.

I'll just close with one of my favorite quotes from the story to whet your appetite.

“Jaceck, I’m so proud of you! What you said just then was the sweetest thing you’ve said since the mist got me.”

1 comment:

Eliza said...

I've never thought much about an editing process (since I've never delved into the world of writing) beyond the typical grammar issues... but you're right, changing one thing would have many ripple effects. Best of luck in the rest of your editing endeavors. I'm excited to be able to read your finished novel someday!