I’ve been editing and rewriting my novel lately, and it has been really painful for me. I am a native speaker of American English, and yet, I still struggle mightily when I write and finish an entire book and someone else comes along and tells me my writing needs so much work. I am an underwriter, so most of my struggle comes in the form of telling things that should be shown, and in not describing characters and the setting enough.
In this post, I just wanted to go over some of the things that I have come across during the editing process that I have struggled with or just seemed silly or made me laugh. Maybe you can relate.
I like planning things more than I like to do the things I’ve planned. Well, I’m really big on making checklists and checking the items off. Well, no. I scribble them completely out with maniacal abandon, but you get what I’m saying.
The problem is that I am guilty of putting things onto the checklist that does not further my cause at all. I have to constantly remind myself that busy work is not necessarily productive work, or I will spend a whole day marking off my checklist items but not actually getting anything important done.
Constant Facebook loop. Not sure what this has to do with editing, but when I’m procrastinating in general, I’m on Facebook a lot. You know, there are games to play, people’s kids to goggle over, oh look at this cool science post, and oh my friend has a new cat!
I start sentences with conjunctions (but/and/yet/so). Everyone does sometimes, but I apparently do this constantly, and it is very rarely mentioned by my critique partners. That means if I don’t catch it, no one will.
Similarly, I use a lot of overcapitalization. Is it important? It must need to be Capitalized then! Yeah. Apparently, I don’t know what’s a proper noun and what isn’t when I’m writing, even though I totally know that I know.
I have a really hard time with people telling me something is cliche’. Let’s be honest. It’s all been done before, so isn’t everything a cliche’ at this point? If a blooming flower in the light of dawn’s approach cannot show its petals off ‘in all its glory’ then why would it?
It’s discouraging for critique partners to have me cut single words out because I fight to write every single one of them. In most cases, they’re right, it tightens up the prose, but this is a 65K word document, not a 200K word document. I really can’t afford to be trimming my document one word at a time, let alone entire phrases.
I don’t use semicolons. Ever. After the recent surge in semicolon tattoos, you would think I would not only know what it means but how to use it. I don’t. I mean, I do. Know. What it means, that is. Use it? Nup. On the other hand, you can pry the Oxford Comma from my cold, dead, and calloused fingers.
Sometimes my personal pronouns get weird. Like, how many she’s and hers are in this chapter anyway? Do I really have to name the characters that often? People just don’t use names all that often in normal conversations so it seems really weird to me to name people so specifically all the time.
So much telling. I’ve probably written too many school reports for me to ditch being concise on the first go around. Or the second. In fact, I am an extreme underwriter, constantly having to add words and descriptions in everywhere. Emotions? What are those?
What kind of things have you run into lately with your editing? Have any #EditingConfessions you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments below!