For some, writing is merely putting words on a page, much as I have done here. For others, it requires intense concentration and labor. That’s what happens when I work on a poem, novel, or essay. It's hard work and not always a labor of love.
I was reminded of that today when I was thinking about how long it had taken me to write the first draft of my novel and how long it has taken me to edit it. Think 1 year for the writing and 2 years for the editing, but keep going because I am still editing with no end in sight.
Yes, that’s the truth. Writing is fairly quick until you try to make it good, to make it worthwhile to read, to make it interesting, even compelling. The rewrite requires word-by-word, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph analysis.
Are the words spelled correctly? Are they the right words? Would another word work better? Is a word vague, needing description? Do I have too many pronouns, too many adjectives? Can I make my verbs stronger?
Is the sentence all that it could be. Should it be shorter? Should it be longer? Does it even belong here? Would it read better if the sentence was omitted?
Where should I break the paragraph and start a new one? How do I write one paragraph so it flows into the next? What might work better in another paragraph, another place in the book? What should be removed?
The questions about words, sentences, and paragraphs overlap because they are subsets of the whole. It’s a process that dedicated writers go through every time they edit their work. My novel has been cut and pasted and added to and subtracted from all in the hope of making it stronger.
Two sources I rely on to help me in this process are readers and editing tools. Good readers point out problems I may not see; editing tools, such as a Thesaurus, give me ideas, while others analyze my document and show me overused words. These all have a place in my editing arsenal.
What tools do you use?