Monday, May 5, 2014

Are Edits Difficult? By Linda S. Glaz

I often have to nudge the stronger writing from a client, or when I make suggestions to a potential client. And when I do, I get ready for the responses (I’ve heard them all before):
“But it needs to have the character do that. I’m pretty sure that’s how it happens in real life.”
“I use adverbs because that’s the way my writing professor told me to do it.”
“That scene IS important. It IS necessary to move the story along.”
“Backstory has to be there. How else with the reader understand? I just HAVE to set it all up for them.” Very often ten or more pages of set up.
Excuses, excuses, excuses!
And I find myself literally wanting to pull out what’s left on the old gray head. But then recently, I had to have help with edits on a novel I’d been working on for seven years. I’d read it so many times, rewritten it, passed it to crit partners, and then rewritten it again that I could no longer be a good judge of whether or not it was working.
Many very helpful things were pointed out to me that would no doubt strengthen my novel, and what did I do? I found myself making many of the same lame excuses, justifying why I needed that particular scene or phrase.
Do I think we should take every suggestion, every change made to us by our crit partners, editors, etc.? No. We can’t lose our own voices in the chaos, but we have to consider each idea carefully. Does it make sense? Does it improve the pacing? Does it help the story open with a punch?
If you go to all the effort to find an agent/editor to work with, why not take as much time to listen. Don’t be so anxious to justify what you did in the past. The individuals might have a few suggestions that will help you toward your dream.


David B. Smith said...

Linda, I was really helped by this post! Some manuscripts have been through the polishing process (also fawning, self-congratulating, and melodramatically-sighing-over) that I really do almost lose all perspective. When my antenna wires have glazed over to the point where they aren’t even picking up typos anymore, I do need a good critic or spouse (or agent) to help me regain my equilibrium. Okay, sometimes we should stick to our guns – Stephen King’s recent awesome time-travel novel has a huge section that’s basically there ‘cause, hey, he felt like it and he’s Stephen King. But most of us do need to heed the counsel of friends. I like one of your concluding lines: “Don’t be so anxious to justify what you did in the past.”

Linda Glaz said...

Thanks, David, and we all catch ourselves doing it. Editor, agent, or crit partner, we all want to protect our babies, but sometimes the cute little smiles have to go.