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Lessons From the Editrix

Pip (@big_black_bird) was pestering me to post about my editing methods, because they are apparently mysterious and awe-inspiring. Personally, I think Pip just edits like she cooks- throw everything into the pot, boil, and serve. But if it will shut her up, I’ll illustrate the process.

 

Lesson The First: Be A Bitch

Your novel doesn’t want to be edited. And it is going to cry and squeal and plead for you to put down the red pen and untie it. It will tell you it is fine the way it is, you’re a genius, you don’t need to edit. Your prose is incendiary, your characters are dazzling, your setting is believable and the plot is tight as a- Well, let’s not go there.

Your story will give you every excuse not to edit it. You will be lured with the exotic promise of new stories waiting in the wings. You will be distracted by fantasies of Donald Duck’s money swimming pool. You will need to build barricades to keep back the hoards of fans sure to descend upon you at any moment. You’ll sit by the phone waiting for publishers to call and tell you you’re on Billboard’s Top 40. You’ll want to sit around in your underwear eating choco-pops out of a mixing bowl watching Power Rangers because you wrote a book, dammit!

You know better. Get out your riding crop and the D-Luxe Ball gag and do the job right. Because like every gimp, this book need to be whipped into shape.

 

Lesson the Second: Dirty Little Pig Boy!

Attack your novel like it belongs to someone else. Trust nothing. Rip it to shreds. Keep going until it cries. Dismantle it down to the components you made it out of- Protagonist, antagonist, vital plot points, sub plots, alien sex toys, steel plate bustier. Every individual part of your novel is a different tool that you will need to use- combine threshers, fist dildos, matchsticks. Separate the wheat from the chaff, and the dirty little pig boys from the posturing frat boys. Give that naughty novel the beating it deserves.

This is not the time to show mercy. Put on your sternest face, and crack your whip frequently. Don’t let up.

 

Lesson the Third: Never Neglect The Knots

Whether it’s your intricate plot or a complex shibari pose, pay close attention to what ties things together. Don’t forget a character in the middle, or create one from ether with nothing to support them. Don’t have the killer bee hive tumble from the heavens into the hero’s hands. If you’re going to have the whole ending based on an ancient prophesy, mention it before book seven. I would even suggest it belongs in the first book.

This is the part where you have to be prepared to cut things loose when they don’t work out. Be careful when cutting the gimp loose- he’s more fragile than your book.

 

Lesson the Fourth: Spit Shine the Latex

Now that you have the big things worked out, it’s time to clean up the little things. Grammar, spelling, dialog, punctuation, pacing, tone, theme, imagery, voice, and anything else that you can think of, they need you to go back after yourself and check their posture. Make sure that tray on their head doesn’t wobble while they go down the stairs. This bit generally has more ‘Please sir, may I have another?’ than the others. Don’t worry. Just keep your back straight and your frown imperious. As tedious as it seems, it will be worth it when you have the little bastard serving you tea in a frilly maid outfit. I mean published.

 

Lesson the Fifth: Gimps Juggle – You Don’t.

Your novel should be able to balance multiple plots, an entourage of characters, a handful of spiked dildos, and a poodle. You should be focusing on the whip. (And not catching your heels on the rug.) Do one thing at a time, and do it very well. When you are done, move on. You are the boss bitch, and things happen when and where and how you say. No arguments. No distractions. Keep your focus on what needs to be happening right now.

 

If you want to share a thought, feel free to leave a comment. If you’re looking for help, shine the Editrix signal. If you want someone to whip you into shape, I know some people.

About gwensimon

I write things. I drink and swear and sometimes sing.

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