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    I’m editing Book 1 of Tilda’s story series at the mo for Bink (good news – looking like it’ll be published earlier than I thought, in Sept. Yay!)

    I was told that there weren’t many things to look at – all nit picky stuff. Woo-hoo!

    Thing is, I had worked my way through half of the MS on paper, because I needed to get more into Tilda’s head (if you’ve read Kingstone, you’ll understand the effect I was aiming for). So on receiving said edited MS, I read through, accepted the majority of the changes, and added in all the bits I’d changed by myself.

    Except that now, I’m reading through again, and I’m not sure whether the changes I made are actually needed. Some seem to be a slightly different way of writing the same thing – they were the first to be rejected. Or unedited, as I’m beginning to think of it. Some change the order of actions etc to make the flow better, which may or may not have been unedited depending on whether they add value or not. And then there are sections which I have completely rewritten because they felt too tell-y. In the main, they’ve stayed.

    I think I’m discovering that the unediting is rooting out the additions that don’t add value to the text – they simply change what words I choose, but don’t make the reading any smoother.

    Does that make sense? And do any of you find that sometimes, you change something, only to change it back again?


    Only got a couple of minutes, Squidge, so a very quick response. Yes, I do. But it is mainly about how I tell the story. I might decide something needs more dialogue or less description or more inside head and then I’ll change my mind. Because none of them are wrong per se … or right. It is something to with varying the pace and style, I think.


    In general,Squidge, although I know exactly what you mean, I don’t. Partly because a lot of the time I am writing ‘badly’ to start with, so much needs to be improved (and the correct word substituted for the one I couldn’t remember – I’m grateful for Emma D’s suggestion of putting then in [ ] so as to later find.

    At the moment, writing a unplotted murder, for which I know the perpetrator’s identity but need to keep it hidden from a number of people, I’m more struggling with adding clues and misdirection and working out exactly when to reveal what.

    Philippa East

    Such an interesting post, Squidge. In general, if I find myself changing something then changing it back again, it’s usually because that isn’t really the problem, and there’s something slightly different which I actually need to fix.

    For example, I might fiddle around with a sentence structure or a word choice and then realise the real problem is that I’m not actually even clear what I’m trying to say in that paragraph.

    Or I might edit and “unedit” the order or pacing of particular beats in a scene before realising that scene itself isn’t working and needs to be radically overhauled.

    Editing can be a rabbit hole though, right? We can tinker forever, growing more blind all the time!


    And do any of you find that sometimes, you change something, only to change it back again?

    Bah! Editing? My text comes out publisher-ready, no rewrites.

    OK, total-lying mode switched off now 🙂 Yes, I change it, change it back, forget why I wanted to change it in the first place, then forget entirely what the whole fracas was about or what I was aiming for, until some time later when I reread it and change it again to what I had initially updated it to. Frankly there’s no rhyme or reason to it other than seemingly what mood I happen to be in until, if I eventually hate it less one way than I do another, then it stays like that til beta phase, at which point it becomes clear that after all that, the new text is simply a repeat from something further up the page. But as long as I have some sort of handle on the process, i.e. knowing what mindset I write best in and arranging my life to maximise that, things do stabilise somewhat in the end.


    I’m with @philippaeast on this one. Often if I find myself fiddling back and forward with one thing, it’s because the issue with that bit is actually because of a different bit being wrong. If that makes sense.

    But also, yes to @jd73, it can just be about mood & what aspects of the book are at the forefront of my mind during that edit on that day. Reminds me of writing research papers with several co-authors and getting comments back with author A saying change sentence X to Y, and author B saying change sentence X to Z etc etc. And then them both being insulted if I ignored their edit. So editing a novel sometimes feels a little like having half a dozen co-authors in my head!!


    Laughing @jonathan! Comes out publisher-ready… in our dreams!!

    I understand what you mean about the ‘something bigger’s going on’ scenario. I had places where I could definitely see that happening and rewrote whole sections. And I also know what Jonathan means about being in a particular mood.

    I think my rule of thumb is going to have to be whether it adds value to the text – ie improves it. I mean, I know that’s what editing’s trying to do, ultimately, but if the change doesn’t make any appreciable difference and I can settle for what was there before, maybe it never needed changing in the first place, IYSWIM?


    Yes. In one of mine I rewrote two chapters from a different POV – for consistency: they were the only chapters from that character’s POV and it upset the balance. Then I discovered that those chapters really, really did work better with the original POV. So now I’m going to have to not only restore the original chapters but change others to be from that POV too. Or shelve the whole project…

    Gerry Fenge

    Anyone else do the trim-the-syllables for tightness – and then restore-the-syllables for flow?


    Yep! And turn sub-clauses into separate sentences then merge them again.


    I suspect what I am currently writing is all going to be unedited later. Why is it so difficult to tell the difference between a brilliant idea and a plot disaster when writing a first draft!


    Because brilliant ideas might look like plot disasters in draft 2 but then turn out to be actually brilliant ideas in draft 3??

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