Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Last Gasps of Editing

It's going to be a quickie today (in the purely PG sense of the word. Please, people. There are children out there! None of whom read this blog, but that's beside the point.) I'm just about done with my FOURTH draft of Cloudland [insert loud clapping and whistling here] and I've set myself a deadline of, well, now, to get it done. Which means that today's bloggery must remain brief. And brevity is a major challenge for me, so this is also a personal growth day. Or something.

On this last, final, ending, all-over, done-with and every other word I can think of that means NO MORE EDITING pass, my editor pointed out two little gems that I'll share today. Because, you know, self-humiliation is super fun. And yes, these quotes are real.

She circled one of my favorite darlings, and wrote in the margin, "If you delete this, will you cry?"

Well, of course the answer is YES BUCKETS AND BUCKETS, but unfortunately, she was right. As she usually is. I had rewritten and significantly trimmed down a scene near the end of the book, and as a result I had a piece of exposition that stuck out like a giant, throbbing, possibly infected sore thumb. But I had kept it there because it was really really cool exposition!!! It was all about the Day of the Dead and how the Michoacán people believe that the monarchs that migrate there are the winged spirits of their ancestors and families, who come once a year to visit and bless them. And that was so, so perfect for Cloudland that I just about jumped out of my chair when I read about it, and I couldn't wait to get it into the book somehow. Which I did. By sounding like Professor Liz Blocker, and lecturing on monarch butterflies, their migratory patterns, and their cultural significance to the people of Mexico.

Right. It got cut. Sigh.

But that wasn't all. My editor  underlined a couple of modifier words in another section and noted that the "hyperbole might not be necessary here."

Hyperbole?

Who, me? Exaggerate in my writing? NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS!

This made me laugh, because really, she should just emblazon that note in giant blinking neon print on the cover page of the book. Or on every page. Otherwise I might forget about it.

Ok, folks, I'm off to finish my rewrites. And this post clocked in at mildly long, instead of really really long, so I must be making progress in the brevity department!

36 comments:

  1. You spent 88 words telling us you were going to be brief. LOL

    Seriously, I enjoyed this post. You always make me snicker and giggle, and I definitely need more laughter in my life. ;)

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    1. Did I really? LOL. It's definitely a work in progress!!!

      Thanks, Melissa :)

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    2. ROFL. That was too funny, Melissa. It was a good post, Liz. :) So glad the book is going through its last draft. Git er done!

      I find that when I trim around in a paragraph a great deal (but want to keep that hilarious or otherwise darling)...heck, the whole paragraph ends up on the floor by the time all is said and done.

      And I laugh at Melissa's teasing because if anybody needs 100 words to say something simple, it's me.

      M.L. Swift, Writer

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    3. Oh please, laugh - and tease! - freely. It's soooo true. I am not a brief person.

      You're right about the paragraph, Mike; when we trim it down, it often has to go entirely. Probably why I don't like trimming!!!

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  2. LOL! Here's wishing you the best with your rewrites--and I'm glad you're brave enough to say yes when your editor suggests cutting a "non-essential." It kills me too.

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    1. Thanks Crystal :) Oh, I wish she were WRONG, and then I could keep my beloved stupid paragraphs! But... she's right, so out they go. Because in the end, I DO want the best MS possible!

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    1. Very true! The stuff I'm working on now is harder... cutting, although painful, is always easier than rewriting!

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  4. I've never met your editor, but I like her already. "If you delete this, will you cry?" is such a great note. ^_^ Even better that she was right, and that it needed to go. Heh!

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    1. She's pretty amazing, actually. I'm really lucky. She tells it like it is but somehow manages to make me laugh at the same time. Pretty great skill!

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  5. It just breaks your heart when you have to eliminate perfectly good parts of your story! Good luck with the revision! (And I agree with Mason. You're editor seems pretty nice!)

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    1. Well, "perfectly good" might be in the eyes of the beholder, aka the writer! We always think our stuff is lovely, and then some editor comes along and points out that really, it's not. At all ;) She IS nice! She's great.

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  6. Well, at least we know about it now. Sorry you had to cut it. Maybe you can save it for 'cut-scenes' someday. :)
    Sounds like you're getting pretty close to that finish line. YAY!

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    1. That's true! I did get to share it a little bit :)

      I AM CLOSE! (sorry for the caps. I'm excited!)

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  7. Oh, cutting something like that would cut me to my core. I live for those kinds of exposition-y, reflective scenes. BUT, yeah, if it was nothing more than a rabbit trail in the story, I suppose it had to go. Sigh. Sounds very cool.

    And you get a B- for brevity today. :PP

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    1. LOL. A B- ? Uh-oh. I'm too much of an over-achiever; I'm gonna have to work on that one.

      Thanks - it WAS cool. Sigh.

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  8. Congratulations on final editing passes!!

    And save your monarch exposition for promo on all those social media sites. Here included. Or create a deleted scenes page on your website or blog. We can remove our darlings from one spot, and place them in others.

    Kind of like the time-out chair for the Urchins at my house. Except more positive. And maybe with less screaming and tears. 0r maybe not. ;p

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    1. Ha! I love it - exposition as marketing material. It's perfect.

      No, unfortunately, I think the Urchins might respond better to their time-out chair than I do to cutting my favorite bits...

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  9. Hyperbole...LOL...so me. Guilty. Axing those darlings is excruciating. Good for you for having the strength to wield the delete key.

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    1. Heh. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one!!

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  10. So great you posted on this. It's something we all go through - a part of the story that seems so cool to us, but really does nothing for the book, and once it's deleted, it's not missed! Glad your editor got you to see that in a loving manner. :) Writer’s Mark

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    1. You're right - it WAS in a loving way. She's pretty wonderful. And no, it won't be missed... except by me! ;)

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  11. Hyperbole...didn't you post about over-exaggerating below? LOL. It really is SO hard to delete pieces of prose we love. Sigh. And YAY for this being your last edit!!! I am so wishing I was there right now!

    Also, I nominated you for a blog award! :)

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    1. You did? Hey, that's so nice! Thank you!! Running over to look at your blog now...

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  12. I know exactly how you feel. I just finally finished my second round of edits and among the things I had to give up (and rightly so though it pains me to admit it) was an entire chapter about my Pinkerton agents.

    Aren't editors wonderful?

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    1. An entire chapter??? OUCH. I bet it was full of fascinating stuff, too.

      Congrats on being done with the second round!!

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  13. Hope your editing went swimmingly- rr is going swimmingly. It can be so hard to finish things on a timeline!

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  14. Good editors are the best. One of mine liked using "Need this?" throughout the manuscript, and of course I didn't. Reward yourself once you're done!

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  15. Good idea!! Hmm... whiskey? Chocolate? More unnecessary expository paragraphs? ;)

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  16. Congrats on all your progress and it will all pay off in the end.

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  17. "possibly infected" hehehe...too funny. Here's my idea---give us the axed exposition in a blog post, eh? eh?

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    1. ooo that's tempting, but I think you'd all probably say "yeah, it was a good idea to delete that."

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  18. Ugh, it's so hard to slay our darlings. Maybe you can use the butterfly spirit imagery in a sentence somewhere. Your readers who are familiar with the Michaocan winged spirits will recognize your reference and find you brilliant (as of course you are)!

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    1. Aw, thanks! I AM using the imagery, which is probably part of why my editor told me to cut the exposition. I just wanted to share how COOL it was, LOL

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