In fact, that’s what my focus has been on this week. I edited one story, re-edited another one (to put it back the way it was originally) and did one complete pass of my first two Smooth Vengeance chapters**.
One thing I have learned that distance helps. Editing something as soon as the first draft is done is good for catching typos (especially if you read it aloud) but it doesn’t really help with making it better. To really improve a work, I need to look at it as if someone else had written it. Don’t ask me why, but I’m better at looking critically at other people’s work than my own. I guess part of it is pride of ownership blinding me to flaws or the story in my head interfering with what’s actually on the page.
I will say that this past week has re-convinced me how important editing is. I took one of my older stories, one I’m very proud of, and started editing it. I found lots of mistakes, not just missing words that I thought I’d put in***, but oddly phrased sentences and even character motivations that weren’t clear enough.
On the other hand, as a writer, you are basically never done ‘fiddling’ with your work. No matter how perfect it is or was, we just…can’t keep our fingers off things. This can be dangerous since over-editing, especially after getting peer feedback, can take out the very things that made this story sing to you. It can take out your voice.
I don’t know what the magic number of revisions is. It’s not ‘one and done’, at least not for me. But it can’t be so many that it makes you sick of the whole thing****.
For those of you out there, struggling with your own revisions, keep at it. It is good work, important work, required work even. Hang in there.
*(my rough drafts are damn rough)
** Seriously, how many times could I use the word ‘was’? I blame all the detective novels I’ve been reading this past year.
*** ‘In’ for example is often left out. Weird.
**** Like I gutted my beloved Angel Odyssey. I really need to fix that book and send it out again. It deserves better.