Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Novelist's New Clothes

Yesterday I switched out my winter clothes for my summer clothes. In other words, I was editing my closet.

Tired of the dark, heavier winter wardrobe, I was only too happy to lug it over several trips to a closet from which I'd pulled all the brighter, lighter summer clothes now piled on our bed.

I wasn't adding anything new, but I had to consider deleting a few things here and there. If something didn't 'fit the story' (and I knew I would never be that size again) it was time to say good-bye. Deleting things you enjoyed when you wrote/wore them but that no longer work with everything else can be painful.

A few items from my winter stash could potentially become useful if we get a cool Colorado day. Not an unusual occurrence. But rather than have them take up space in my newly edited closet, I convinced myself that because I wasn't storing them off-site, I could still remove them. Knowing I had access made me feel better.

Which is easier? Editing clothes or words? Do you edit as you go (lose weight/gain weight) or do you edit as the seasons change?

CR: Almost finished with The Best Revenge by Stephen White. If the ending is as good as the rest of the book, it'll be on my Top Five for the year.

It's all better with friends.


  1. I do edit as I go along but--related to my comment about believing I write a PFD (at least at the time)--I've been amazed to find that my best editing takes place months (or even years) after I finish a complete draft. Even two or three. Only with real distance can I say, Hey, that isn't so interesting after all, or better yet, Look at the potential I didn't begin to mine here, and here, and here.

  2. At some point, we have to birth the baby though, don't you agree?

    Maybe when we get inured to deadlines, the idea of a C-Section won't seem so premature.

    Stories can only stand so long of a gestation period—in either females or males.

    I'm willing to bet there's not an author out there who wouldn't like to tweak their finished prodgeny just a bit more.

    (Still loving/lusting after the concept of believing in a PFD.)

  3. I agree, too much can be too much! When we've twisted and tortured the heck out of something. I think there's a point when editing becomes mere tweaking and then it's time to call a halt.

    But what amazed me was the potential for major changes, which I saw only after I'd completed draft # whatever, my agent had signed off on it, and then editors began reading.

    I don't know. At a certain point are we just writing a different book, not necessarily a better one? Or does writing on a book-a-year schedule mean that the published version doesn't go through the cooling off period most books need to be (re)written well?

    Maybe a PFD is as illusive as Big Foot, Peg, but I for one am excited to hear where you are come mid-July! Good luck, and please take time for coffee, or gardening, or whatever refreshes you!