Hey, SE Readers. Joan here today with a subject near and dear to our hearts. Writing. Okay, little joke there. If you weren’t interested in writing, you wouldn’t be reading this blog.
We all know editing is a must when it comes to writing. First drafts suck. And we all want to make our stories the best they can be. However, editing isn’t always easy and maybe not the most enjoyable part of writing. Allow me to share a personal experience.
I recently began what I thought would be an easy project. For some time, I wanted to publish a collection of short stories. I had several in my archives. Some were finished, a few I had posted on my blog years earlier, and others were incomplete.
Each story had something in common—the need of serious editing.
I decided on a minimum word count of 2,000 words per story. The first one I tackled was initially around 350 words. It was virtually all telling—just an idea I had as a prequel to a longer novel.
No problem. What could be difficult about adding 1700 words?
It was harder than I ever imagined. After much frustration, but feeling pretty good about the revised story, I sent the draft my awesome critique partners. It came in at just over 1900 words.
I received positive feedback and some excellent suggestions. (By the way, if you don’t have critique partners or a critique group, I highly recommend it.) Once again, I took the draft, rewrote, revised, cut some words, and added more words.
I scolded myself more than once for even attempting to undertake such a project. For a while, I was tempted to scrap the entire idea. After all, this was the first of several stories in need of revision.
But I persevered and finally completed the second draft. The story is just over 3100 words—way more than I anticipated.
By contrast, the initial draft of my first novel was somewhere around 88,000 words. I had set a goal of 90K, but I knew to reach that I would only be adding fluff to the story.
I will say, the first draft was a convoluted mess—so much so that I put it aside a year before I would dare think of editing.
You’ve heard the phrase, “Kill your darlings?” I had to kill a lot of them, and it was painful. I deleted paragraphs, scenes, even a chapter or two. When I got through with the first edit, the book stood at 78K words.
However, I also had a lot of telling instead of showing. Since showing takes more words, I added to the word count on the second revision. The published book was just over 86K.
Should you write short and edit long or write long and edit short? Is there a right or wrong way? I think it’s up to the writer. Some find the first method easier, while others feel it’s best to cut words. The important thing is to edit.
Which to do you find harder? To write long and edit short or write short and edit long? Share in the comments.