October 5, 2012

Day Eighteen of Thirty (nonconsecutive) Days of Writing the editing edition

Posted in challenges, thoughts, writing tagged , at 7:07 am by z. l. sasnett

I do not like to write – I like to have written. – Gloria Steinem

I have determined that the above quote, with a minor adjustment, fits me perfectly.

I do not like to edit – I like to have edited.

Editing is like pulling teeth with me. It’s not like I can’t see that something needs editing. Looking back on the editing, I know it’s much better for it. Every pass through something illuminates my writing weaknesses, not that it bothers me. I actually enjoy seeing where I need to pay more attention, where things are slap-dash and pasted on in the rush of getting the story down.

The glimmer of jewels are there, beneath the rough surroundings. I can see them.

And when I’m out on the other side, I can look at it and go ‘wow, that really came together!’

Damn but I hate having to get from knowing there’s something there and finally seeing that it’s there.

My biggest concern is that my editing energy starts high at the beginning. It flags around the middle. It completely peeters out at the end. Which does what? Gives me a stellar beginning, an adequate middle and a ‘what-the-shit-is-this-hot-mess’ end.

A couple of tricks get me past that. One is to edit when energy is high and stop when it starts to wane. I can recognize the signs my attention is flagging and I stop there, making a note in the text. Next time, I pick up there and go. Rinse, repeat until I get to the end. For short pieces, I do that twice.

Then, I start at the end and move one paragraph at the time back to the beginning cleaning up any unclear wording and logic flow until I get to the beginning. This, I found, has been the most useful in editing so far. I’ve caught problematic wording, pronoun confusion and even some logic flow issues moving from back to front that I missed the two times I edited top down.

And it’s fun editing end to beginning, oddly enough, considering I’d rather have the kitten climb my bare leg with her razor-sharp claws than to edit.

We all do what we can to make something that is usually not-fun, fun, right?

Right!

Now, on to Day Eighteen!

18. Favorite antagonist and why!

Second verse; same as the first. I wouldn’t be writing them if I didn’t like them in some manner. Which is why I have trouble writing them. I like them. I don’t want those I like to do questionable things.

I don’t want to like the bad guys when I read, either.

I know antagonists are necessary for a story. I suppose my biggest hangup is wanting to make the antagonists the ‘true’ bad guys in every sense. Good guys are good; bad guys are bad. Full stop.

The trick is to make them three-dimentional. If I can avoid making them mustache twirlers, I think it will go a long way. The problem is that I’m a fan of black-and-white conflict. In my real life, I have issues when it comes to shades of grey. I don’t like morally ambiguous. Certainly not deliberate moral ambiguity. (an aside. I like that word. ambiguity. say it out loud. it’s fun!)

A singular antagonist is much more difficult for me to imagine than the faceless organization that is in opposition to the protagonist. I can give the organization a front face that represents them but for it to be an individual who is out for himself…it isn’t something I can wrap my head around.

Ties in with my personality. I’m upbeat and positive most of the time. I like nice things and nice people. Not a big fan of over-the-top drama or drama-for-drama’s-sake.

It’s a real balancing act. Something I’m still struggling to perfect.

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