Editing: A Writer’s Remorse

If you’ve been following my weekly rants, you’ll know that I’ve made the decision to do one final read through of my first book. For those that haven’t been reading my rants, let me explain in one or two sentences.

Basically, my incomplete book series has been in the hands of three publishers. For one reason or another, the publishers have abandoned the series. I had given up hope for the future of the series with the closing of the most recent publisher, but then I had an epiphany and reversed my decision. Instead of putting my book babies in the hands of yet another publisher, I’ve decided to handle things personally and self-publish the books.

Essentially, that decision led me to look at the first book in the series. In the past, I’ve looked at it and grimaced. In truth, it’s probably the roughest book in the series. The other two that were published flowed easier than the first. I think that was due to the first book being …well… the first book I’ve ever written. The first book is always the most problematic.

So, I’ve decided to go through it page by page and rewrite the entire thing. When I rewrote the beginning in the second iteration (third publisher), I made the mistake of not reworking the entire book. I only edited the second half of it so that it made sense storywise when compared to the expanded beginning. The feedback I received from some of the readers was that it seemed like it was written by two different people. Which tracks because it was…technically written by two different people: Past Jim and Present Jim. Hopefully by the end of this project the Once and Future Jim will do a better job than the rest of the Jims.

In my own opinion, the worst part of writing is the revision process. I love the actual writing part of things. I love the final process where the book comes out and you instantly become rich (because that is what is expected from authors, lol). I even like the promoting of your books. I’m pretty decent at Photoshop so making all those cool marketing images isn’t such a hard thing to do.

Having said that, I really despise going through the book and editing it one, two, three…however many rinses and repeats. I don’t hate the editing process though. I’ve edited books for other authors before and really enjoyed it.

I just hate reading my own writing and seeing just how bad it is. When the second publisher accepted my books and the first book came out, I got some really good responses to it. The only critique to it was that, and I’m paraphrasing, “for a book about zombies, there’s not a lot of swear words in it.” And you know what? I’m okay with that critique.

Another reason I particularly don’t enjoy the revision process is that I already know the story and if the characters live or die, and how the story ultimately ends. There’s no surprise or incentive for me to get to the end. Now, I know a lot of you are probably asking, “but Jim, you wrote the story, shouldn’t you already know that before you actually write?” And you would be right. When I set about writing a new book, I typically know how I would like to see it end. However, the characters like to take control and sometimes they go off the plot and just do their own things. As an author, you can either reign in the characters and force them to do what they’ve been made to do. Or you can let them take control and go down their own path. I like the second option because it creates more of a natural narrative instead of a forced narrative. For instance, if you’re writing a character and the plot dictates that the character do something that is totally out of his/her nature, then it won’t seem right when the reader gets to that part.

You can see this type of forced narrative in the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones. The screenwriters were given six episodes to complete the series. They had to wrap up storylines, multiple character arcs, and the entire conflict between the White Walkers and the battle for the Iron Throne.

What the audience got was, arguably, total garbage. If you look at the scores on Rotten Tomatoes, Season One had a 90%, Season Two had a 96%, Season 3 had a 96%, Season 4 had a 97%, Season 5 had a 93%, Season 6 had a 94%, Season 7 had a 93%, and Season 8 had a 55%.

The critics called it a “mad dash to the finish line” because the characters were driven by the plot and not the other way around. The characters Tyrion Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen suffered the most.

Okay, sorry about that, I got on a Game of Thrones sidetrack which was something I told myself that I’d never do. Anyway, back to the rest of the rant.

So, okay, I have to admit that I’m unsure of how to end this weekly rant. It’s getting a bit long so I probably should wrap this up. Let’s just say, stay tuned to follow my ramblings as I make my way through my first book and hopefully, we’ll learn something together.

Until then, keep calm and write on!



Categories: Mastering the Craft

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