Tuesday, 2 September 2014

I think I've discovered the secret to editing...Honestly I really think I have!

Hey future me

I know it's been a while, but that's okay.  My girls have been on their summer holidays and I have been fortunate enough to spend it with them.  Hand on  heart, best 6 weeks ever.  Thank you to my two girls for sharing their summer with me, I love you both. 

During the six weeks I had pretty much decided to leave the writing alone.  Story/book 1 was finished and I was already halfway through story/book 2 and I was feeling pretty pleased with myself.  That was until I asked my wife to read my finished piece. 

Over the last couple of years I have learnt loads about 'The Craft' we call writing.  I know I have more to learn, but time will take care of that.  My favourite part is writing the first draft.  I like the feeling I get when I take a clean white screen and fill it with words.  I don't know if anybody else does the same, but when I write a first draft I don't tend to focus to much on things like grammar, structure, etc.  For me the first draft is all about getting the story down.

Once I have it all on paper, I then start editing and focus more on the technical aspects of writing.  To be honest I wrote my first story/book six times before I thought I had a good working copy.  By the time version six was finished I was tired of looking at it.  It got to the point where I was reading what I had written, but none of it made sense, so I asked it to my wife to read it for me.  I know, I know, bad idea. A lot of people have told me that you should never ask someone you love/like to critique your work and I understand why, but I did it and found that it was probably the best thing I have done. 

At first she read it to herself and to give her credit she was very positive about it all, but I suspected that there was something she wasn't telling me.  Eventually, after a lot of nagging I asked her to be honest and boy was she. 

I was to wordy.
I repeated myself often.
I would often lose the message (or plot) by over describing the silliest things.
And I repeated myself often. 

(See what I did there, I made a joke about repeating myself.  C'mon that's funny). 

I was gutted, angry, upset, and so got very drunk.  When I had sobered up I asked my wife to give me an example of what she meant, I had written the bloody thing six times, surely it wasn't that bad.  Turns out it was worse.

She read out loud the first chapter.  I listened and quickly realised that she was right.  Hearing what I had written was a real eye-opener.  Try it, I think you'll be surprised.  Having someone read your work out loud is completely different from reading it yourself.

As she read to me I discovered that paragraphs and pages that I thought were literary gold were simply not good enough.  When my wife had finished that first chapter I was embarrassed, and felt a little sick.  As a wannabe writer it's easy to get completely engrossed in what I am trying to do.  I immerse myself in a world which only I can see and hear and then I try to write it down in the hope that it's interesting enough that someone else might want to visit.  But if the way I write is to difficult to read, then what's the point?  Writing can be lonely, but thanks to my wife I have learnt that it's okay to let others in.  For perspective mainly, but it also helps keep you grounded.  I had forgotten that the reason I started writing in the first place was because eventually I wanted someone else to read my work, and that when they do, it should be enjoyable and not a chore.

So that's my secret to editing.  Have someone, preferably with endless patience, read it out loud to you.  I wish I had done that when I had finished draft two, I could have saved myself months of long nights and fretting.  If I'm ever fortunate enough to be published, when I write my first dedication it will be to my wife, not only for being an amazing woman who has had to put up with me and my shit whilst I try and make something of my writing, it will also be for showing me that it doesn't have to be that complicated. 

I Love You Boo!

Does anyone else have any tips when it comes to writing?  Please feel free to share, I for one would be grateful.

That's it for now.

Stay cool people.

Pip  x