Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Plotland Slog Continues

First drafts are relatively easy since they are but a framework upon which you hang the decorative elements.  A first draft contains only suppositions, leaving later research to obtain the facts. Characers are sketches whose personalities will develop draft after draft. Scenes are bare skeletons of what they will later become, undecorated by sense impressions, visual descriptions, and/or declarative action. All of these begin to take shape in more careful drafts, edits as you were.

Let me get this off my chest - I hate my first drafts but enjoy the subsequent editing.  That is, I enjoy it until I have all the things I wanted to say said and put in their proper place. Assured that my grammar are correct, as are all the misspelled or incorrected  (damn SpellCheck!) words, and malapropisms.  When the drafting is nearly complete the symbolism, if any, should be in place as are all the metaphors and similes I can cram into the piece without sounding too pretentious.  Finally, the story is in full form and complete, or so you think.

And yet there is that final step, that painstaking, agonizing, foot dragging, soul sucking task that MUST be done.  I am talking about line editing. Crawling and clawing your way through the novel word by all-to-familiar word.  This is not the exciting exploration of an idea that fueled your first and successive drafts, nor is it the skillful manipulation of large blocks of completed text about to heighten the drama or comedy.

No, it is reading for the millionth time words so familiar that no sentence surprises, amuses, or interests you.  You crawl along at a tiny fraction of your reading speed while you try to maintain focus so as not to avoid a glaring mistake or poorly worded phrase.  The pages slip by so slowly when every instinct screams that you must submit this else lose the work already invested with such difficulty.

A word, a line, and sentence more you press on and, to your utter dismay, discover errors that had escaped your careful eye, evaded your beta readers, and would embarrass you terribly if caught by an editor.  You pounce, excited by actually doing something for a change and fix the problem.

Then it's on again, slogging page after page to the final scene and blissful submission.

Which begins the agony of waiting for a response.



  1. I agree with you about the line editing. It's such a slog at times that I find myself taking days to edit something that should take hours. I try to get other work done during that time so I feel productive. Mostly that involves checking out stories that haven't sold and sending them out to new markets. Or maybe I'll start plotting the next story.

  2. >I hate my first drafts but enjoy the subsequent editing.

    Me, too! Exactly!!



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