I’ve read a lot of blog posts about editing in the last six months or so; some of them via our lovely ‘What I’m Writing’ linky and some from the blogosphere in general. They’ve all been interesting and I’ve often thought ‘hmm this could be useful information/advice/knowledge when I come to edit my novel in the future’. I’ve been making a mental note of a lot of what I’ve discovered – even a physical note from time to time – but by and large, I haven’t considered it relevant to me now. Not really.
Then this week I realised – ‘for heavens sake, never mind the half-finished novel you flippin’ idiot, ‘Editing’ is exactly what you are doing to your picture books at the moment! All these editing posts are relevant now! Now, Now, NOW!’
You see, I think I thought that editing – proper editing – was something you could only do to a novel. Obviously, as I write that, it sounds idiotic especially as I’m aware I’ve been editing my books for ages (not to mention my short stories, flash fiction, poetry and blog posts – duh). But I’d somehow, in my head, been categorising doing that as ‘tweaking’ my work or ‘looking at rhymes’ or ‘making a few changes’. Actually, what I’ve been doing these past two weeks in particular (as I’ve been preparing to send my three manuscripts to be professionally appraised) has been really intense editing.
I’ve put masses of time and effort into issues of rhyme and meter (as you’d expect, with rhyming picture books), but I’ve also written out characters that were slowing the story down, I’ve cut massive chunks of text, given characters new names, written them occupations to add depth to their role, thought (more) about story arcs, reader expectation and experience and considered the balance of emotions in both the characters and readers. Then I’ve gone back to the beginning and looked at the bits I’ve always loved and, with a critical eye, slashed some of those too. So many words have been assigned to the trash heap! And then, of course, I’ve thought about layout – I have little mock-ups that I’ve made to help me visualise how my manuscripts might look as books. So it’s been a proper editing process!
And now? Well, today I sent off all three manuscripts. They’re out of my hands… now I just have to wait for feedback.