Editing and Killing off Characters. . .

“Summerbird’s Quest” is undergoing edit now (by me–eek!), and what an undertaking it is! I admit it’s difficult to take a knife blade to one’s own work, but every time I find something to fix, I seem to come up with another thing to fix that I think will make it better. And…you guessed it, I return still later and put it back the way it was! Has anyone come up with suggestions for developing a way to pretend that what you’re reading isn’t yours? How do you untangle yourself from your own characters and plots?

I know Faulkner is credited with saying, “In writing, you must kill your darlings,” but these guys are hitting back! I admit I’ve never brought anyone back to life (or unexpectedly killed them) after deciding their fate, but some of these characters are making me pull out my hair!

Ooh—I just told a fib! In “Dragon Rings” I went back and killed off someone after making them a minor character and had to make some major revisions for a couple of chapters to address her loss. She was a kid. It was kinda sad. Well, back to the editing grindstone.

If anyone out there wants to help—you get your name in the acknowledgments and a free e-book. And you get to make suggestions!

4 responses to “Editing and Killing off Characters. . .”

  1. I think Word 2010 is available on Apple, but I don’t know specifics.

    If you own an Apple computer: The good news is, you can upload ebooks directly to the Apple iTunes Bookstore. The bad news is, your ebooks must be in EPUB format and have passed the validation program EPUBCHECK. That’s bad because EPUBCHECK holds the all-time record for “most unhelpful error messages.”

    • Wonderful. You know how allergic I am to error messages! They truly freak me out. I don’t know, the last time I had a major changeover was from DOS to Windows (yes, people, we really do exist) and I kept sneaking back to DOS every time the “geek squad” wasn’t looking. I might try out my daughter’s Apple, she adores her Apple. I’ll let you know.

  2. Hi!
    I was sure you’d gone to Mars or something! 🙂
    I will agree, your suggestion is a very good way to take yourself out of a novel and gain some perspective. I’ve done that with a couple of manuscripts, just put them away, perhaps to revisit someday. But an active story that still lives inside my head and is gasping to get out just has to be tended to! I was sort of being a drama queen. The manuscript for “Summerbird’s Quest” is completed, but if you remember, originally it was over 700 pages long, and we discussed splitting it into two novels. This is the result of that, I have to make changes in the end that had their beginnings in the split. Whew, that was a mouthful!
    Anyway, I’m off on another quest, to figure out if KDP and Apple get along, I think I’m getting closer and closer to giving up on this 2-year-old PC and switching to an Apple. Do you know if Word 10 on Apple is available??
    Before I forget, I am looking at the fan fiction, very much lost in and around it because I don’t know the storyline or the characters, but I would recognize your stylings even if you hadn’t given me a heads-up.

  3. My only suggestion is to put the work aside for a LONG time—years. Don’t edit it, don’t read it, let your brain forget all the page-by-page, paragraph-by-paragraph reasoning for why you wrote what you did. Then when you pick the book up again, years after publication, you can read your book almost like a first-time reader would read it. Which means that you can spot the same flaws that a first-time reader would—except that YOU can fix the manuscript. The very worst thing you can do is to reread your work too many times, too close together—you lose all perspective.

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