Tuesday, July 19, 2011

4 Things Never to Think About Your Book

This was originally going to be FIVE things, but then I realized I could combine so it ended up being FOUR. Less of a round number but alas.

Over the last few weeks, I've re-read 2 of my short stories. Shorter stories I guess you'd call them. Shadow State and In the Shadows, the stories I recently received the rights back to. I've learned several things in those read-thrus

1. Editing is super important. That 3rd reading you really don't want to do? Do it. I can't believe I missed a couple mistakes! Misspelled words, missing quotations, weird spacing.

2. Give yourself time between readings. I once finished a story and started the read thru that evening. Wow, what a mistake! Not only was my brain fried, but it was stuck on the ending when I needed to read the beginning.

3. No word you've written is that great. No matter how cool it is, how literary, how well it fits with the theme or style of the book, if it doesn't work, it doesn't work. If people are stumbling over just to pronounce it, if you can't spell it on your own, it does not belong!

4. Going off, no word you've written is that great, edit yourself. Just because you wrote it doesn't mean it's the best thing since Shakespeare. I'm all for choosing every word that fits, carefully crafting the sentence/paragraph/scene/chapter...but if it needs cutting do it.


Lisa Lane said...

I love this blog post, Isabel. It's so true that a work is never as polished as one would like to think. I had weekend "editing parties" when I edited my last book, in which hubby, one of my sisters, and I hung out with the computer fed to the television and edited day and night. After around edit round #10, we all commented on how amazing it is that you can look at a manuscript a dozen times and still miss something here and there.

We're all constantly improving our craft too, so it stands to reason that going back to an old manuscript would inspire yet another desire to edit. It's unfortunate that a couple of your stories have fallen out of print, but how great is it that you now have the chance to rework these stories?

Isabel Roman said...

TEN TIMES?! I can't imagine editing it that many times, but I never really counted I guess. Counting might depress me :)

You're absolutely right, though! reading over the story AGAIN means asking: Did I put that word there? On purpose? Or Why did I ever think that phrase made sense?

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