Friday, 23 March 2012

How to Edit - Part 5

And now it's on to the last stage of editing, the finishing touches. Sometimes writing is perfectly OK in that there's nothing technically wrong with it, but it can feel bland or dull. This is your moment to check that your writing is as good as you can make it.

Look for opportunities to add colour and edge. It could be a bit of neat description or an amusing metaphor, a nifty bit of dialogue or a pacy bit of action. I go through my texts with a highlighter pen and mark all the bits I think add pzazz. There have to be at least 5 on each page and if not, I add some. Ideally, there are many more than that. They may be small, but the accumulated effect is of energy and colour. (I hope.) Here are a few of mine, all of which I know I added at this stage of editing.

* He was wearing short sleeves, but the ghosts of leather patches circled his elbows like wreaths of pipe smoke
* A laugh dirty enough to plough
* Steve looked mildly surprised, not dissimilar in expression to a Hereford bull suppressing hiccups
* Dancing to the rhythm of the music (though not entirely with it), spiralling away like a drunken daddy-longlegs.
* A knife sat in an opened jar of peanut butter, like Excalibur waiting for King Arthur

And then when that's all done, sit back and bask in glory. Then start sending it out.


Philip C James said...

Lovely examples, Sarah. I chuckled appreciatively (or would it add more colour to say I cackled insanely like a hen that's been pecking at cocaine dropped by fleeing drug dealers. Nope can't do it as well as you)

Philip C James said...

Afterthought: would you at this point also sub-edit? I.e. check names of places, institutions, etc, anything factual?

What about additional research to improve veritimisilitude? I'm writing first draft at moment and trying to get the story down on paper. I think there's a lot I can improve with some research later but I don't want to interrupt the flow (other factors are very good ar doung that for me)

Morton S Gray said...

Thank you for this series - very helpful as I struggle through my edits for RNA NWS! Mx

Sarah Duncan said...

I loved your example Phil, and a post on research coming tomorrow.

Thanks Morgan, and good luck with the RNA NWS!

Josefine said...

Just read through all the editing posts for some tips. I have rested my story I finished in December and planning when and how to pick it up again for the edits. Thank you!

Sarah Duncan said...

Hi Josefine, that sounds like a good length of time to leave your story - you'll come back to it with fresh eyes.

Kristin Celms said...

Thank you so very much for this series on editing, Sarah. I found it through Liz Fenwick's blog and it's perfect timing for me, as I just received my critique from the RNA New Writers' Scheme. Thanks again - I will be using all five parts as I begin my rewrite.