Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sharper. Sharper. Sharper.

The title is an allusion to this post, where I likened editing to honing a tool like a knife: it requires the taking away of material to make it sharper. (And why shouldn't I reference my own blog? It's not as self-indulgent as footnotes* and besides, I'll clean it up when I revise later.)

After I printed out the micro-book so I could see the timing and rhythm of larger thematic elements, I just started editing right on the pages themselves. It's almost easy (To read, that is. Never easy to do.)

Apart from fixing typos and rewriting a sentence here and there, here's a sampling of my comments to myself:

good part.
poss. move
Show Tom looking? Would appear before scene on dig (see previous page)
Now we're two layers removed from action.
Note: in micro-format, these details are an interruption of the main story.
Not redundant so much as unnecessary.
Scene really starts here.
opt cut
We already saw this!
Only new relevant info is that Sam forgets....

They're a mixture of impatient criticism and a hard-eyed look at what works and what doesn't. Occasionally I mark "good" sections, but since I already know what I like, I'm really only interested in what I don't like.

Sometimes it feels like I'm disassembling a castle brick by brick, only to rebuild it. But for that metaphor to work, the original castle would have to have been a hulking mess, not thought out, with passages that led nowhere, arrow slots facing inward, half-completed drawbridges, and a moat that couldn't hold water.

I've got grit under my nails and I heave out another brick, toss it aside and it tumbles away. Work on a replacement, fitting it in with the rest of the structure, even if it only exists as a whole in my mind, scraping the flat stone and square edges until it's just right. And I hold my breath and lift it up and slide it into place.


Sometimes it even fits.

*Not that there's anything wrong with footnotes.


Laini Taylor said...

Snick! Yay for revisions! But oh, that tiny font is too tiny, even for me. I like the reading glasses sitting there! Best of luck with it!

S R Wood said...

Thanks, Laini! I figured I might as well use this tiny draft for mark-ups as long as I had it printed out. But I'll be glad to return to normal type, no doubt.

Peter S said...

As I'm going through my revisions, I've found arrow slits in my castle that point straight up. Good on first glance, but that return trajectory really gets you!