Saturday, November 3, 2012

Locking Up the Inner Editor

No matter how awful we are at remembering certain grammar and spelling rules, each writer has an inner editor. Today, we will examine our inner editor’s role in our story.

Ths is n’t how we writ

Okay, it’s not how I usually write. My Inner Editor is griping at me because I’ve misspelled three words. And he’s really mad that I did it on purpose. Part of me really wants to go back and fix it because it’s not right. I hate mistakes of that nature. But I shall leave it to illustrate a point. The same part of me that’s shouting that I made a mistake is shouting at you, too. Congratulations, you’ve awakened your Inner Editor.

I have a love/hate relationship with my Inner Editor. He routinely tells me the sentences I spent hours translating ideas in my head to words on a screen are wrong and must be redone. And then, when I come back, he gripes that I didn’t do that right, either. Honestly, he gripes at almost everything.

Don’t end a sentence with a preposition. Didn’t she have green eyes earlier in the book? Why are they suddenly blue? You need to name the character now. You’ve got two males and are mentioning both. “He” won’t cut it much longer. Why did you pick that name?

See? He won’t shut up. When it’s time to edit, I want to cry. The chapters I spent hours crafting will be evaluated line by line. I must determine if each word choice is correct. I have to find out if I’ve mentioned if the character is standing, sitting, or kneeling. I must look for details of each environment. I must make changes. I must add things. I must delete paragraphs.

When I open my manuscript on my computer and have my marked up copy of my book ready, I go through each page and make those changes. It is a giant pain in the neck. It takes more countless hours to complete each round of editing.

But you know the wonderful thing about editing? The end result is always much better. No matter how much I hate editing, I do enjoy the finished product. And while your Inner Editor gripes constantly, he’s usually right.

Lock Up the Guy Who’s Right?

NaNo suggests that we lock up our Inner Editor while we write our stories this month. Don’t worry about typos, how many times you changed the color of the character’s eyes, and whether or not you used “said” three times in the past page. They want you to focus on your story as the ultimate goal this month.

When I read that rule the first time I participated, I did not like the notion. And neither did Mr. Inner Editor. No. No. That simply cannot be done. When I worked on my NaNo story, I found that to an extent, that wasn’t possible for me. I still corrected typos and fixed minor errors. And I wasn’t struggling with my word count, so I kept on.

Every November, I strike a deal with Mr. Editor. He will continue to gripe about typos, chide me over the use of affect/effect and insure/ensure, all while keeping track of how many times I used each form of “said.” I will listen to an extent. If I spot a typo, I’ll fix it. If I’m stuck in my story, I usually have to delete what I just said. It’s how I write, and that works for me. But, I will not spend the entire month evaluating the merit of each line. When I reread, I’ll make minor corrections. If I don’t know how to fix something, I’ll leave it alone. That’s for a different time.

Now, your Inner Editor may be just as vehement as mine about being locked up. Find what works for you. If you can embrace the NaNo suggestion of not making any corrections while you pound out this draft, more power to you. If not, strike a deal. Mr. Editor can talk, but you don’t always have to listen. You will be amazed at how much freedom it gives you if you ignore him every once in a while.

Editing is Important...But Not This Month

Unless you’re doing something that’s not related to your story, don’t bother with editing. Focus on writing. When you’re readying your story for another set of eyes, focus on cleaning up what you have.

An example of why editing is important

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