Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Editing and Rewrites? Pain or Pleasure?

How set in stone are your stories? Do you relish the rewrites and can’t wait to get in there and make everything better after you get the edits back or do you dread seeing the edits come into your mailbox? If we fall in love with our stories, there is a chance that we will be so fond of certain parts that we don’t want to let them go.

This happened to me recently. I had a sister as a character for my hero. I liked her a lot, especially since she was a “tomboy” like me. She’d rather ride horses and help rope calves than help her mother and other sisters in the kitchen. I even loved her name because it was the same as a dearly loved aunt of mine.

When the editor asked me to delete her because she didn’t play a very big role in the story and the time on her could be spent on other characters, my first reaction was no of course. I’d rather write more for her character than to eliminate her. It took going through all the edits and then coming back to those about Josie before I could begin to see the logic of what Lori wanted.

Difficult as it was, I cut out Josie and let my hero have only two sisters. As I read back over the final edits, I could see how much tighter and stronger the story became with more emphasis on the other minor characters.

Another area with which I have problems is confrontation between my characters. I have a difficult time writing angry scenes and having my characters rant and rave at each other, but when forced to do, the story becomes stronger and the characters more sympathetic when both sides are presented and both have a good case.

Our editors are there for a reason…to make our stories the best they can possibly be with some polishing and rewriting. Very rarely do I every completely disagree with editing or rewriting suggestions, but when I do, I have a very good, logical reason for it.
What are some things either in your writing or in your personal life that you have difficulty dealing with? How are they resolved?


Darrel Nelson said...

We have the same editor, Martha, and so I can relate to what you're talking about. Lori has taken away some of my characters too, and it was hard to let them go. But when I came to terms with it, and rewrote and then reread the manuscript, I could see that it was for the best. I'm a poor judge of my own writing. Long live great editors!

Brandi Boddie said...

It can very well be painful to remove characters, especially ones that we've fallen in love with. Sometimes I've had trouble bringing conflict to a main character because I didn't want them to get hurt! But we can't be merciful to them if we want a good story. We have to toughen them up, even if that means roughing them up a bit ;-) Great post!

Lena Nelson Dooley said...

I had Lori ask me to remove a minor character, but I planned to use him as a catalyst in book three, so I got to keep him.

Usually, i have gone along with most of what an editor told me, and it made the books much, much better.