As I’ve written before, editing is a massive part of my work in writing my novel. I typically have a call once per week with my editor where we will cover as many pages as we can in an hour. We don’t simply look for misspelled words or grammatical errors, but the actual value of a word, a sentence, a paragraph. Sometimes this does mean deleting most of a paragraph and writing a new one. To properly illustrate the editing process, I thought I’d provide some examples of an unedited (only edited by me) and edited (by me and my editor) excerpt.
Here’s an “unedited” piece:
I found Kelvin precisely where Prichard had told me he might be, and after a grunt of acknowledgement and a brief description of what we were going to do, we jumped right into the education of the day with our audience of roughly 12 of the youngest. Our audience wasn’t really the youngest who were being educated at the time in The Pack, but rather the youngest of the group who could be educated on the material we were covering. Most of the young ones present were between 6 and 8 years of age, and were going through activities that, though physically strenuous to a certain extent for that age group, would have been much too easy for anyone of an older age.
The education began with some pointers on the basics of hand-to-hand combat. It was all about how to throw a punch, kick properly, and maintain a proper fighting stance. Kelvin and I modeled all of this, occasionally striking each other in the chest or shoulders, before we moved into one of the most important physical subjects for the youngest: balance. This took a great amount of time as Kelvin made the youngest hold arduous positions, balancing on one leg, on two arms, on one arm, for great amounts of time. They then clambered up and around trees, and balanced buckets full of water on their backs, heads, and shoulders all whilst tackling an impromptu obstacle course Kelvin had quickly created. Everything was repeated to a point that must have seemed far too excessive to the youngest, but that they would later, much later, be thankful for. Then came physical conditioning and measuring. Kelvin had the youngest run for miles on end, carry each other, and do an excruciating number of pushups and squats. I ran through the motions alongside them while Kelvin was measured their overall progress. It was during all of this exertion that time began to slip away and I slowly began to shake the nagging anxiety about Thane’s mission. I shook it loose to greater extents with every stride and every repetition, every laugh at a muddled attempt to clear an obstacle and every cry of effort when they had nearly reached the top of a steep rise with their brother or sister clinging to their back. Focusing on the task at hand, my mind became clear.
Now, here’s the same piece after editing:
When I found Kelvin he gave me a grunt of acknowledgement. He was with 12 of the youngest, most of them between 6 and 8 years of age. We began with the basics of hand-to-hand combat– how to throw a punch and maintain a proper fighting stance. We tried to teach them balance. They held arduous positions on one leg, on two arms, on one arm. They clambered up trees, and held buckets full of water on their backs, heads, and shoulders all whilst tackling an impromptu obstacle course. Then came physical conditioning. Even the youngest ran for miles on end and did an excruciating number of pushups and squats. I ran alongside them while Kelvin measured their progress. With every stride and every repetition, every laugh at a stumble and every cry of victory as they reached the top of a steep rise, I began to forget about Thane and his mission. Focusing on the task at hand, my mind became clear.
Aside from fixing some typos and grammatical errors, the main change one would notice would be that the edited piece is much, much shorter than the original. Editing is really about making writing more concise and streamlined. This means that I may have to delete plenty of sentences that I thought were borderline poetic. However, if making my writing better means making it a whole lot shorter, I’m completely game.
Since what I’m reading always impacts my writing, here’s what I’m reading right now:
Shogun by James Clavell
Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl