Cassandra Piat

All about the woman, the author and Mauritius…

Editing, editing, editing…do you kill your darlings?

on August 31, 2016

Hi everyone!

I recently took part in One Book at a Time‘s Blogiversary and I thought I’d reblog my guest post today…

Over the past year I’ve read quite a few author guest posts and found that they are all inspiring, often sharing their experiences or giving valuable advice on some aspect of writing or another… so I guess mine’s going to be pretty different because it will be neither of those things! Let’s just say that it’ll be more along the lines of a soul-searching piece on editing and rewriting – or, then again, just a major rant on the subject!

All writers know about the task of editing and re-writing… and I can safely say that for me, it’s the most harrowing part of writing a book. Well to be honest, I actually don’t mind it at first – let’s say the first 3, 4 or even 5 times I read through my manuscript, but when 6 months down the line I’m still editing and re-writing THE SAME MANUSCRIPT – well let’s just say I’m really feeling those “shouty” capitals!

It never ceases to amaze me, but every single time I read through my manuscript again, I make new changes. So much so that sometimes I wonder whether my final story will be anything like the lovely story I had actually written to start off with! I say the ‘lovely story’ because I did find my story rather lovely THE FIRST 10 TIMES I READ IT!!! (oops sorry, “shouty” capitals again!!). But now, I honestly have no idea if it’s any good. I mean how could I – just imagine reading a book over and over again, wouldn’t you get totally sick of it after a while and end up finding it a total bore? Sure you would! So how can we writers not get to the point of being sick and tired of reading our work? Is there such a thing as too much editing or over-editing? How do we know when to STOP? And finally, how can we keep an objective point of view on our work when we’ve read it over and over (and over and over and over) again?

Oh noooo… I just realised that you probably thought that I was now going to give you answers to those questions! Oh dear… I actually have no idea what the answers are!! (But if you happen to know, please, please enlighten the newbie writer that I am ☺)

So as I have no answers to these questions, while I wait to receive some enlightenment from you all, let’s talk about another aspect of the whole editing thing. As I mentioned just before, I’ve been editing and re-writing my story for a long time now. The first six months was to clean it up before sending for a manuscript critique, and now the past six months has been the re-writing process – and now of course I need to edit the re-writing!!

Anyway, over the past few months I’ve read lots of great articles giving advice on how to efficiently edit a book (I know, maybe I should have read them before starting editing the first time around…), and every time I read an article, I found something that I needed to apply to my manuscript (words to avoid etc.) so I had to go over the whole book again from square one and apply the new changes throughout the document.

QUICK NOTE: Woohoo! I’ve just realised that I have a bit of advice for everyone out there – and more importantly, myself – read all the articles and posts you can about the best editing techniques BEFORE you start the first edit of your manuscript!

Okay, back to my manuscript. I have one little dilemma left to solve… Recently I read yet another great post about effective editing, and one of the points has been troubling me since… I can’t decide whether I should follow the author’s advice on that point or not – so I thought this would be a great opportunity to ask you for your opinion on the matter… The advice is; Kill your darlings. In other words, parts of the story that you love and which have special meaning to you, but which don’t actually serve a direct purpose in the story.

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So my dilemma is: I’ve brought back Lucy and Matt, the main characters from my first book, What’s it gonna be?, in a few scenes in my second book although they don’t serve a direct purpose in moving my new story along.

Why did I do it you ask? For the simple reason that when I read a book, I grow really fond of the characters and always think that it’d be nice to know how they’re doing after the end of the book. I’ve read books by a few authors who often include the characters from their previous books in their new books, albeit briefly, and I’ve always thought it was pretty cool to catch up with those characters again. So I thought that’s what I’d do – give my readers a quick peek into the lives of the Lucy and Matt since Whats it gonna be?.  So what do you think? Keep my darlings or remove them? I would really appreciate your comments on the subject.

To leave you on a positive note, I have to say that one of the great things in life is that we learn from experience and from our mistakes, so you can be sure that next time I’ll definitely read up on editing tips before starting the whole editing process ☺ ☺ ☺…

Thanks for reading! And thanks to Julie for once again hosting the Fiction Writers Blog Hop 🙂 To return to the FICTION WRITERS BLOG HOP on Julie Valerie’s website, click here: http://www.julievalerie.com/fiction-writers-blog-hop-aug-2016

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8 responses to “Editing, editing, editing…do you kill your darlings?

  1. This all sounds very familiar, and on book 7, I am sadly no nearer the answer. Some books have gone out and I’ve had no idea of the finer points of the plot, as I changed them at every time through and felt virtually sick at the thought of having to read it for the 900th time. As for your darlings, I have done that in my latest series, but they always have to be seen through the eyes of your latest characters and briefly. Great post. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Wendy! Glad to know I’m not alone in this endless editing nightmare 🙂 I’m about to sit down for my FINAL edit following the comments from Beta readers and I’ve already spent an hour on the first page, making new changes!!!!!!!!!! ARGGGHHH! But now I have a deadline to get it to the copy editor so at least in 1 month I’ll have to just STOP. FINALLY!!!!! Thanks for the tip about my darlings. Will check to see if I’ve done that. Merci for dropping by 🙂

      Like

  2. sandiedocker says:

    That’s a tough one. I totally believe in killing your darlings, as much as hurts to do so. The story comes first. As for your situation, only you can decide that. You just need to ask yourself WHY they are there. I mean really why. Not just oh I thought it would be fun. One thing to keep in mind is that when a reader finishes a book they have it in their heads what happens to the characters next, and that might not be what you have in your mind. Is that something you want to get in between?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good points Sandie. Thanks so much! I think I want them there to keep them alive for my readers a little longer – but then again, is it more for me??? Oh noooo, I’ll have to think this through 🙂

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  3. Pauline Wiles says:

    I think Lucy & Matt can stay, but preferably if:
    ~ readers of book 1 expressed a wish to see a sequel or know what happens to them
    ~ their scenes are brief (a walk-on part might do the job)
    ~ and ideally, you find *something* they could do, say or share to move the plot on a bit.
    Series, especially in lighter genres like ours, are hugely popular and I think it’s partly because of that connection readers make with characters.
    Good luck!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I say keep them – but give them a roll in the story. I understand your reasons for putting them in – but for the reader who is reading THIS book for the first time as a stand alone (having never read the other book) will wonder why they had to read about two people who didn’t feature in the story. So perhaps, compromise by keeping them in the novel, but only if you also give them a roll in the storyline. Good luck! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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