On Writing – On Editing

Editing it a powerful tool, but it’s something that I haven’t got around to using much in my writing practice. Most of my writing has been focussed on writing something in the snippets of time that I had free, and just try to put the many ideas that I had floating around in my head down on paper. Even better if I could give it to a select audience and have them give some few words of positive feedback.

But editing? Going back and re-writing something? Yeh, haven’t done that in ever.

One of my projects for this year is to go back and edit an old story of mine. It’ll never see the light of day on here, mostly because it’s a private project that I’ve always wanted to go over and re-edit after having left it for a good number of years.

I’ve never realised how powerful editing can be. I’ve re-written points of view, changed the entire dialogue and feeling of scenes but merely adding a few words here and there to place certain emphasis on particular parts and weave some more intrigue into the plot. As I now know where the story is going, I can use that knowledge to build far better sub plots and secondary plot lines that were once left over or left behind because I didn’t have time to concentrate on them when I was originally writing them.

This project has also given me an entire new perspective of how I put those initial words down onto the page. Whereas I was trying to juggle plotlines, scene blocking, and character dialogue as well as trying to make it sound right, I can now take a step back and know that if I don’t get it right this time, then I can always go back and pick it up in the editing stage.

I’ve read before that the first draft of a story is the most raw, and the worst, version of your story. And it’s true, because with editing your story can become much more refined and punchy. I’ve found my story has taken on an entire new body, as I’m now considering deepening plotholes to give depth to the drive of the characters, or trying to consider a romantic subplot as a functional part of the story as opposed to something that I just added on the end.

Not only that, but it’s given me a chance to reflect on where I’ve come from as a writer, and how much I’ve developed. It’s easy to be critical of my older work, but having edited it to something that I feel is much truer to my current writing ability, I’ve been able to see just how magical those early stories were. It reminded me to be true to myself when writing, and that however vast or creative that plotline was, if it works I can pull it off.

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