Sunday, November 20, 2016

Rewriting: It's Painful

“When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done.”   Stephen King “The Horror Writer Market and the Ten Bears,” November 1973 Writer's Digest

Sounds painful doesn’t it?   To a writer, this can be as trying as a root canal, or spending a week’s vacation with your least favorite relatives.  Yet it is an essential part of being a writer. We all want our work to shine, to be the very best. That means slowly, methodically, carefully studying each sentence, right down to the punctuation. 


You bet your ass.

I know a few writers who don’t even like to share an early draft of a manuscript until they’ve gone over it countless times. M.S. Spencer does this and then proceeds to kick the wall, or maybe the cat, when a trusted beta reader points out an error. But she’s striving for perfection. I can’t blame her.  I’m the same way.

Right now I’m in the midst of editing the galleys for “Why 319?”.  At this stage, I’ve already worked with an editor for a couple of months, going over the manuscript, tightening it here, shaping it there, making it perfect. Trouble is, perfect is elusive.  So I find myself once again, pen in hand, slowly noting tiny changes to the manuscript.  Because not only does the publisher want the book to be its very best, but I do too. And readers should demand nothing but the best work for their time and money. 

So I’m following King’s advice and murdering my little children. It’s painful. But in the end, it’s well worth it. 

And if you want to check out some great writing, take a look at M.S. Spencer's site.  

1 comment:

  1. Only Steven King would liken editing to killing children. A much kinder, gentler writer merely advised us to permanently delete 2 out of every 3 pages. And, since I beta-read 319, I also recall some muttering...Thanks for holding me up for opinion tomatoes are thrown and for providing my link. All but stalkers are welcome (if you're a stalker, you must fill out the online application form). xx M. S.