Monday, October 31, 2011

Editing drudgery


Corny as it is, one of my first readers is always my mom. Having her for a reader of a first draft is beneficial to me in a multitude of ways:

1. She’s free.
2. She catches big things: holes in the story, plausibility problems… you know what I’m talking about.
3. She catches little things: when I change a character’s name a couple different times accidentally, for instance.
4. She’s honest. My mom tells it as it is, and then some! I can always expect her to give her true opinion, no matter how painful it is, usually in a constructive manner.
5. She’s fast. Once she begins editing, she doesn’t stop!
6. Did I mention she she’s free? She doesn’t charge me a reading fee or expect services in return.

But let me tell you about the editing drudgery I’m in right now, thanks in part to my wonderful mother! I had finished a lengthy novel draft. My mom had read it through once, along with a couple other folks. I had made changes, and I let my mom have another whack at it. Some significant changes were made, and, after all, her second whack was for free. And whack away she did!

This time, her edits weren’t quite so constructive. In dialogue, she wanted me to say who is speaking exponentially more than I wished to write in. She wanted me to change “said” to “shouted,” “bellowed,” and other superfluous words, which, by my descriptions, should be obvious. She wants me to say what people are thinking, even when it breaks POV or when this should (again) be obvious based on descriptions. Perhaps I’ve already written that my character is stomping around the room. My mother wants me to say, in addition, that the character “felt so angry because…”  But here’s my problem. Along with a bunch of edits I don’t agree with are nuggets of 100% pure gold useful edits: again, I’ve messed up a couple character names. In some places, I really do need to divulge more information about what a character is doing in order for readers to understand the scene. 

So on every single page, with the exception of a few, I’ve got multiple edits written in cursive to sift through, separating wheat from chaff. Argh! Not fun. Not fun at all!

My mom has offered (more like demanded) to go at the draft for a third round. I told her, “Mom, you give great edits, but I don’t think so. Not a third time. That’s why I have an editor.” (As in real, paid editor.) My mom wasn’t happy at my polite refusal. But hopefully soon I’ll have another first draft for her to whack away at. And I'll open myself again to more editing drudgery.

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