In a sense, when you start to edit a huge piece of writing (a smidgen over 100k), you are beginning again. This time, you are looking at it with new eyes. The heart must retreat behind its wall for the time being, and the head must take over. I have said it many times - write your first draft with your heart, write the second with your head.
But by heavens, it's hard. It's hard to take yourself out of the equation, to distance yourself from the characters you have created and fallen in love with, to look at things with an objective eye, and cut and slash and delete as much as needed, even if you love the words.
What you create, however, will be so much better.
There is one thing I learned from my last venture into editing a novel-length manuscript: you can edit too much. You can over-analyze and try and spit-polish every.single.word until you edit the very life and breath right out of your story. Your voice fades into the background and your characters have been wrestled into doing what you think they need to do to make the story work instead of letting them decide their direction.
But in the end, it doesn't work. At all.
Lesson learned. This time around, I'm not going to be so ruthless. I'm not going to edit my voice out of the story. I'm not going to agonize over every single word despite what some other writers might advise.
I tried it that way once, and in the end, I realized that my story wasn't mine anymore. I'd edited the heart out of it.
Solution? When the head (editor) gets too zealous, the heart must gently whisper in its ear. And the editor must listen and consider, then proceed to the best of its ability.
Only then will the true story be told.
I've got a new home on the web - stop by if you get a chance! www.melissamarsh.net
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