Editing, An Author’s Nightmare

cropped-lone-wolf-cover-scanned-500-x-7501.jpgI’ve spoken to a lot of authors over the last six years of radio shows. Occasionally, I ask them which phase of writing is the most difficult for them. Almost unanimously, they say Editing. Beginning the edits on The Kahlea, Lone Wolf Book 4, I am in agreement. I detest editing.

I’m not talking about reading through and tweaking the manuscript, making a few minor changes here and there. I’m talking about finding flawed passages and having to rewrite them. Or realizing that an entire storyline needs to be renovated or completely cut out. These things are like Hydras. You think you have all the references to them eliminated, only to have another one raise its ugly head somewhere else.

The Kahlea, like the other Lone Wolf books, has a lot of sub-plots and I’m trying to consolidate some and get rid of others. Why are there so many? Good question. I blame my husband. He likes intricate plots with lots of sub-text and crap going on all over the place. He would read through and tell me things I needed to add. He said it like that, “You need to add something about (wild, unnecessary random shit).”

Being fairly new at writing, I believed him and followed his requests. Finally, when he got off on some other bizarre tangent, I put my down and said No, both loudly and clearly. (Mostly loudly, I admit).

Not everyone wants to know that and it slows down the story,” I explained.

But it would make a cool sub-plot.”Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00022]

What he still fails to realize that all these extra details require full explanation and resolution later in the book. It takes time and a lot of pages to do that properly. My daughter said something interesting the other day. She said when she gets to a part of a book that she finds boring, she skips it. She doesn’t care if she misses details, because she can usually pick up the thread of events later. She reads my sci-fi manuscripts for me and will skip scenes in them too. However, one thing she likes about my editing is that I will take those long, boring passages and get rid of them.

You don’t leave them in there to bore me. I like that about your books, Mom. They keep moving.” High praise from my busy, easily bored daughter.

This echoes my own feeling about books. I, too, have skipped boring parts. If something doesn’t catch my interest, or keep me in the moment, I’ll flip pages until my attention is engaged again. Sometimes it isn’t. Those books are set aside unfinished, and I’m okay with that. I know people who will keep reading a bad book because they don’t want to give up on it. I look at it this way, that’s hours of my life I won’t get back and couldn’t spend on something I liked. I’m the same way with movies and TV shows. If they fail to entertain, off they go.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00020]As I said above, I’m working on The Kahlea. It’s easier than the first three, because I knew more what I was doing, but it’s still full of those pesky sub-plots. Some of them get developed in later books, so I can’t get rid of them entirely, but others will go in the Outtakes folder.

In today’s reading, I came across this passage and I really like it. For those who haven’t read the other books (and what’s wrong with you? Get on that immediately!) I have an alien race called the Kindred. They are short and furry, highly advanced, intelligent creatures. Their spiritual leader is The High Elder. He’s blind, but still manages to kick serious ass. I absolutely love this guy. He’s annoyingly enigmatic at times—this being one such time. He’s talking to Dr. Stanley Savolopis, whom he regards as a son, even if he’s human. Stan is experiencing a rare moment of doubt, remembering a woman he’d loved and left over forty years ago.

Stan was many things, sentimental had never been one of them. Hard nosed, stubborn, callous, even cruel and uncaring; these were all terms which had been used to describe him. He could neither refute nor deny the description. He was all these things and more.

“She deserved a better man than me.”

A tingling touched his mind, like little fingers tickling his psyche. Turning around, he saw the High Elder standing behind and to his left, touching a crystalline ashtray on the desk. His hazy eyes riveted Stan’s, looking into his soul, although the Kindred man was blind.

“Is that what you believe of yourself, my son?”

“I don’t know, Great Father. Sometimes.”

“Why?”

Stan blinked, not at first knowing an answer, not a simple one anyway. “Many reasons. Everything I’ve done, I thought I was doing something good, noble, worthwhile, important. All I’ve done is pervert, annihilate, corrupt. . .” A flood of unfamiliar emotions welled in him—predominantly doubt.

“Never doubt yourself, my son. How often have you been told that?”

“More times than I can remember. My dad used to say that to me all the time.”

“Did you doubt him?”

“No.”

“Did he doubt you?”

“Never.” Stan paused. “What are you getting at exactly?”

“Exactly? Perhaps nothing. In general, a great deal. If you want specifics, then talk to someone else. I speak in generalities. It’s up to you to supply more.”

“I guess what you’re saying is if my dad believed in me, I should believe in myself?”

The High Elder smiled with a slight inclination of his head. “To ridicule yourself besmirches his memory.”

Stan’s father had died at fifty. He’d never even seen his son become a doctor. He’d labored far too hard all his life and had worked himself to death.

“I suppose you’re right.”

A chuckled thought followed Stan’s statement. “I’m always right, except when I’m not. But I don’t doubt myself. So I can never be completely wrong.”

© 2015 Dellani Oakesauthor dellani oakes banner in red from Christina

If you enjoyed this passage, I hope you’ll check out other books in the series. If sci-fi isn’t your style, I also have historical romance, retro romance and contemporary romantic suspense.

All my books are available from:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Smashwords Second Wind

Smashwords Tirgearr

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2 thoughts on “Editing, An Author’s Nightmare

    • I agree with you about the personality split, Miriam. I don’t mind editing, per se, but I do find it frustrating when I go back to look at some of my older work and have to fix it. I’ve learned a lot since I wrote my sci-fi books and they need repairs. That’s what I find frustrating.

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