Trimming the Fat

Written By: Janna - Sep• 22•13

I’m knee deep into the last (hopefully the last!) stages of editing my very first novel.

The editing muscle is a difficult one to build, and you have to grow some thick skin along with it. That way, when those little blue markup boxes appear in the margins of your manuscript and say things like, “This is cheesy,” or “This is confusing,” you can skip right past the indignant visceral reaction and objectively say, “Well, yes it is. Let me fix it.”

I have one editor (yeah Kellie, I’m talking about you) who’s a stickler for “Does it move the plot along?” Which I’ll admit, is good for me, who tends to write these beautiful, plot killing descriptions, or dialogue taking up precious word count just for a laugh.

The first time she suggested cutting a chapter. AN ENTIRE CHAPTER I wanted to cry a little, and it took me a little while, but in the end, I cut it, and missed it a lot less than I thought I would. The little bit of me that pined after it was purely nostalgic, because it did pick up the pace of the story. And really, what had we lost? A little character development that could me moved to different chapters? A repeat of information?

So the second time she suggested taking AN ENTIRE SECTION OUT, the urge to cry was less, and I loved the idea for a rewrite, so I dove in with gusto. Some times it works, sometimes you have to pitch it. I’m still waiting to hear about this one.

So listen to the people who are just as interested in seeing your manuscript succeed as you are, but are not as emotionally involved in the project. Those that can take an objective step back and say, “This isn’t working,” or “Try it this way.” Keep in mind, they’re right 95% of the time.

But the blue markup boxes aren’t always pointing out a thing to fix.  There’s nothing like getting a “lol” where you meant your reader to laugh or a “very cool!” when they reach one of your more brilliant and creative designs in the novel. Really it makes up for the pain of trimming the fat.

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One Comment

  1. Kellie says:

    I had so much fun working on this with you, Janna! Can’t wait to see what comes next!

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