That (@*#^ Edit Cycle by Janine M. Donoho

A few editing books that help

A few editing books that help

Let’s start with a confession–of sorts. My greatest joy in writing comes with the hot, fast gallop of first drafts. By then the story’s bones and sinews have developed enough so that each session equates with a joyous fleshing out of details. During this phase I can’t wait to leap from bed each morning–and hit the pillow enthralled by story each night.

Then looms the dragging, nagging edit. Some otherworldly creatures find this stage fun; I find it excruciating.

This is different than the macro-edit housekeeping accomplished while writing draft. Reviews of previous day’s work cover structure, plot, tone, pace, etc. I almost wrote ‘theme’, but that’s not always clear in the early stages. Along the way, I deepen conflict and sharpen reversals.

Worse yet, my après draft edits rarely clear the high jumps, much less the double ‘oxers‘, although I do fine over ditches and logs. What’s missing? Well, the heart pounding excitement’s gone, baby, gone. Only a plodding satisfaction remains. Which should be enough, right?

Self talk: “This isn’t my first rodeo. I’m disciplined and well-read. Both sides of my brain receive high quality nourishment and play well together. I can do this.”

Beyond the analysis of editing books, then applying what I learn, I’ve tried other ballyhooed remedies to make this work. The manuscript, hereinafter known as ‘mss’, rests like a freshly broasted chicken while I work on other projects. I do yoga–breathe–meditate–breathe–take long hikes–breathe. Then I go through the mss and ruthlessly scribble editing and proofreading marks learned in the aforementioned tomes. At that point I return to my computer and make these changes.

Then it’s time to surrender fully to the left brain for reviewing content, consistency in style, clarity and flow. I crawl ant-like over scenes for grammar, word usage and accuracy. Finally I read it aloud–or try. After a few pages, I realize I’ve gone silent again–and again–and again.

Cactus prickly pearBy this time I find nothing to like about my story and would rather walk barefoot in a prickly pear patch than read through it once more. My aversion signals the next stage. The mss goes to one or two first readers–published authors with whom I trade this boon.

They always find misspellings and points of unintended confusion. Yes, actual gnashing of teeth and clenched jaws transpire. How did I miss these obvious errors?

So I put on my big girl panties and fix them. The story’s deemed the best that it can be. It’s released into the world.

Then I swear, a few days, weeks or months later? A misspelling here, verb confusion there, dropped words, a formatting error that slipped beneath the motion-activated fence. Dissatisfaction plagues me. For what good is editing if it fails to make your story the best that it can be?

So next time I complete a new project, I’m considering a professional editor–one worthy of manna, dark chocolate, and ambrosia drenched in morning dew from hummingbird wings. Oh, and one who won’t break my fragile piggy-bank.Editing

Feeding Hope by Janine M. Donoho

Planting the moundsEach spring I plant my annual fruit and vegetable gardens. While winter offers the joy of seed catalogs and visions of succulent melons, eggplant and tomatoes dance through my mind’s eye, the real application starts once frost’s threat ends. During the planning stage, I dream big–think Mediterranean shoreline big.

Then I get a grip and narrow my choices to the reality of intense gardening-by-the-square-foot. At this stage companion plants come into play. That denotes matching cucumber with pole beans and radishes, which belly up to peas and carrots before leading into tomatoes, basil and…

Poster for Companion PltgWell, you get the idea. Separate mounds hold my hopes for watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe, and brassicas. Since I love kale, beets and mescuns, you’ll find those, too. I mix basils, nasturtiums, and marigolds among plantings that benefit from their association. You’ll find spinach amid my strawberries, too.

So what do I relearn each growing season? Why how much groundwork, planting and harvesting a garden has in common with writing. It becomes a litany:

Plan

Amend

Plant

Revise

Harvest.

Yes, a garden benefits from editing much as stories do. In the final stages I force myself to be ruthless in both while taking the useful and transplanting it elsewhere for superior impact. It’s how I approach my current edit of MISTBORN CHRONICLES, book 3.

As often happens my process makes me curious about yours. How do your life practices move your writing from here to there? Is your life shaped more by how you approach writing? Or does writing mold your life choices?

IG in the greens

Soulful Pack & One Outlier by Janine M. Donoho

Manny Kartouche' & Nina Sophia, puppyWho are your boon companions? When not writingConnor & Nina or playing with artful things, much of my life revolves around mine. I thought I’d share the nonhuman ones with you. Yes, you’re witnessing unconditional love.Chicken skin love with Mandy, Connor, Ziggy & Gilly Girl

 

Gilly Girl on lapExcept for Gilly Girl, who’s a cat, after all. To her, I serve as private groomer, comfy lap and she-who-feeds-me-scrumptious-stinky-foods.

Now onto daily edits of FORGED IN MIST, book 2Best garden helper ever - Mandy of MISTBORN CHRONICLES.

Soundings, Water Elemental

LaunchFebruary 27th, 2015
The big day is here.

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