About thirty years ago this ceiling fan was a lovely addition to this old home.
So what does this have to do with writing? This old fan is like your first draft— rough around the edges, lacking luster, and maybe downright ugly! Despite misgivings, your draft and this fan might be worth salvaging.
Editing is one of the most important tasks a writer must complete.
As beginners we often write until we reach the last line and consider the novel complete. WRONG! Writers must consider every word, paragraph, and page several times. There may be occasions when entire sections or chapters should be eliminated or reorganized before the novel is ready for viewing by a contest judge, a publisher, or a reader. Many writers hire professional editors before a novel is printed. Don’t stand on your own opinion about the book. At least have critique partners who evaluate and make suggestions to improve your work.
You may have a good draft that just needs polish. It’s more likely you’ll discover mounds of debris requiring a complete renovation of the chapter or book. Practice is the best way to learn self-editing. Don’t expect an agent or editor to do this task for you. Eventually you’ll acquire less debris and rough drafts that require less drastic measures.
Polish a chapter in some draft you have completed. We’ve given tips in previous lessons if you need ideas.
- Look for sentences that seem out of place or awkward when you read them aloud.
- Omit unnecessary words. (You’ll find lessons in the archives with examples)
- Show the actions of the characters instead of telling us what is happening.
A coat of paint and new blades brought this fan from outdated to modern. Its leaves coordinate with the other light fixtures I bought for our new kitchen. The old fan now adds to the décor.
If you practice self-editing, your new draft can be a reflection of the old version with polish and flare that makes your book worth reading.