How not to edit:
There are tons of good websites and author pages devoted to editing and they give really solid advice. However, I decided to be a rebel last month and follow none of it. I also decided not to listen to countless other smart people. I made the decision to mess with my final manuscript one month before I need to upload it to KDP. You have to upload ten days before when you are self publishing.
I wasn't in love with my ending.
It was okay. It was like low-fat ice-cream compared to the good stuff. You know you really want the good stuff. Some people say it tastes the same, but they obviously haven't had the original Ben and Jerry's.
Here's my favorite rule of writing, THERE ARE NO RULES. I might fall completely on my face with this. My novel could come out a complete disaster, but I made the decision knowing that I would never forgive myself if I wasn't 100 percent happy with the ending. I guess it's impossible to be 100 percent happy, but I wanted to be as close as I could get. That's life, following advice, but also listening to your gut is important. In the end, it's you who have to be proud of your work. I want other people to love my characters like I do, but ultimately I have to do what I think is right. Recently someone said, your book will be great, because you put your soul into it. That is why I took the leap to re-do the ending.
Ray Bradbury said, "We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out."
SO with two months left I cut 20,000 words. I re-wrote them completely.
This is what that looked like:
Some quick re-writing tips:
1. Read everything out loud. EVERYTHING.
2. If you don't love it, cut it. Don't trash what you cut. Put it somewhere else. Maybe you have a "I hate this now" folder on your desktop. Go back, look at it later and maybe you'll love it again.
3. Every word counts. Do you need it? If not, take it out. IS your character running or are they scampering? This counts. Every freaking word counts.
4. Most importantly. There is a balance to editing. Use a critical, but kind eye. Be honest about what isn't working, but be kind to your art. A scene or chapter could simply be missing one or two descriptions. Think of editing like making a good drink or for the under 21-year-old crowd, imagine you are baking a cake. The best recipes are made by tasting and then adding ingredients accordingly. For example if my drink is too strong, I know that I can add a little bit of grenadine to make it sweet. The hard decisions are often the best ones. Maybe a whole character needs to be cut, but think of your overall book or piece of work. Isn't it worth it in the end?
I feel so lucky to be a writer. I'm humbled to have met unbelievably talented authors over the years. I have done my best to learn from them. Mostly, I don't take myself too seriously. I know that I'm human and I make mistakes. I can only get better. I will continue to work, grow, and master my craft.
The only way how not to edit, is by giving up.
xoxo Emily Ann Hansen