When I write (what I think) will be the last sentence of a story, I sit back, minimize the window and soften my brain with a youtube video. I find it impossible to begin editing straight away. When I do, I find that I overlook things and make more mistakes. Waiting a while gives me some perspective, it helps me take a step back from the story.
Currently at uni, I’m learning about professional writing needing to be written with the reader’s viewpoint in mind. Write how the reader will read. I think this applies to fictional stories as well. You have to be sure that the reader will understand your allusions, story-line, character’s motivations – it all has to make sense. When you’re writing these things, you understand why they are happening because they are happening in your own mind. In the reader’s mind, these things are new and they have to be able to keep up.
Coming back to edit the next day gives me the chance to see the story clearer. Even then, I am not that much of a fan. Eugh, look at all the simple spelling mistakes! Look at how I forgot that word! Look at how this sentence doesn’t even mean anything! It can make you think that your story isn’t as good as what is probably is.
Once the first edit is done, I close the window again and walk away once more for a break. That done, I go through a second time. Finally, I print off the story and read it on paper. There’s something about reading it on paper you can touch and hold up to your eyes, or hold a red pen to that shows up mistakes or confusions much easier.
There comes a point when editing has to end, though. It’s impossible to be perfectly happy with your sentences.
This is why I wish I had a magical wand infused with my writing style that I could wave over my story to fix up any issues. In that world… I write carefree not bothering to fix up that word with a double ‘t’ instead of one ‘t’, I don’t worry at all when that sentence doesn’t quite make sense, I don’t even sweat when I’ve just made a character speak dialogue that doesn’t fit them – I don’t worry because the magic wand will repair all that in a swish and flick! Wow!
When I look to get my novel published, I guess the ‘magic wand’ will be a proper editor instead. Let’s hope they’re a good one who can spot an inconsistency faster than magic. Ironically, perhaps, I enjoy editing for other people. I don’t mind at all looking through someone else’s story with an editor’s eye, it’s just my own that I don’t really enjoy.
How do you edit?