I used Grammarly to grammar check this post because the chimps who write my books got sick of correcting my yours, theirs, and its.
What’s that? That’s a mighty odd way for me to start a post, isn’t it? Oh yeah, so, the good folks over at Grammarly.com asked if they could sponsor my next post about writing. . . and since I had a mighty good one in the works (this one) specifically about editing, I thought, why the heck not.
I used their services for the first time whilst writing this post. I believe I’ll be doing a bit more of a review on their product in an upcoming post, but for now, why don’t you click on over there and tell them you love me. . . perhaps they’ll give me more money?
Anyway, so, today I thought I’d take a look at the wonderful world of editing. It’s the bane of every writer’s existence. Yet, it’s also the most important piece of the writing puzzle. It is, after all, what turned some twilight fan fiction into the mind-bendingly popular 50 Shades of Grey (of course, from what I hear it could have used a heckuva lot more editing. . .).
For those who have been reading on here for a while, you’ll know of my battles in editing THE LEGEND OF BUDDY HERO. After I had completed the first draft of the book, I was so eager to find someone who would hand me Scrooge McDuck style bags of cash, that I was willing to sell out to whatever was the next big thing, especially after I found out that no one wants to buy superhero books. That meant that several major changes had to be put into place before I put out the initial self-published edition. There was even a young adult version. . . yeah, I was that ready to sell out.
But, finally, I realized I wanted to do things on my own terms and keep true to my vision of Buddy and finally released the first edition of THE LEGEND OF BUDDY HERO. After hearing the book read aloud by someone else, I immediately pulled it off the virtual shelves and slowly got to work on yet another massive edit, but this one dedicated to returning to the original vision for the book.
The basic story is mostly the same, but there were some major changes to, well, pretty much everything. Characterization was strengthened, dialogue was tightened, and use of action was focused on, rather than explanation.
I thought it might be fun to take a look at some passages from the old version of the book and see what they ended up as in the final version. I hope you enjoy this peek into the editing process.
Now, there are some incredibly major differences that occur right off the bat between the two versions. The opening prologue in the version 1.0 was extended and officially became the opening to chapter 1 in 2.0. In fact, we get a much more epic opening to the book than the rather cryptic prologue.
A couple of examples:
1.0: “The air burns around me with its intense heat, reflecting my emotions as I burn with violent anger.”
2.0: “I close my eyes and listen to the roaring wind around my frame, feeling the burning air as it hits my body. A scent fills my nostrils. The scent of the damned.”
1.0: “The ground shall quake with my return. The world shall tremble.”
2.0: “The world reacts violently to my presence, as if it knows what destruction my return entails.”
These phrases are barely recognizable as being related, and are purely the result of enhanced characterization and modifying the focus of the statement.
In chapter 1, we get to meet Buddy and his sister. This entire chapter was rather bulky in the original version, but with some tweaking becomes one of the best bits in the book of getting to learn about whom Buddy is.
1.0: “Buddy had never been very good at mornings. Most people seemed to get better at accepting each new day as they got older. Buddy, on the other hand, dreaded each coming day more and more with every year added onto his life.”
2.0: “Buddy had a long-standing feud with mornings.”
1.0: “Morning, Buddy,” Maggie said. “That was quite the bender you were on last night. That’s the first time I’ve sent you back here before sunset.”
2.0: ““Hey Buddy,” Maggie said. She used her shoulder to turn on the light. The sudden shift in brightness caused Buddy to groan in pain and roll over to hide from the day. “Ah, come on kid, it’s a new day. Gotta wake up.”
Buddy groaned again.
Maggie placed his breakfast on the floor and sat down next to her brother. He tightened his cotton cocoon around himself, pulling his head under the sleeping bag as he did so.”
1.0: “The scene up front was not what he had expected. In fact, although not one thing was in its proper place, Buddy could tell something was missing. Police tape.”
2.0: “Buddy pushed open the swinging door and found a sight much different from what he had expected. The bar still ran the length of the wall farthest from the door. The red swiveling bar stools were still in their place along it. The rest of the restaurant, however, looked as though it had been tossed on its side by some unseen resident of a nearby beanstalk.
Every single one of the circular chest-high tables that littered the main floor were knocked to their side, many were irreparably damaged. Most of the glassware behind the bar had also made its way to the floor, few looking as though they would ever hold one of Buddy’s favorite beverages again.
Buddy happily noticed that most of the liquor bottles still appeared in good condition. He congratulated himself for being the one who had purchased the industrial strength bottle display, which had contraptions in place to hold each bottle individually.”
As you can see, some subtle changes in the thought behind the section can drastically change the tone of the message. Sometimes it would end up meaning more was written. More often than not, however, it would mean whole sections would be taken out. In chapter 1 alone, there were several descriptive pieces removed because I determined it to be well enough explained later in the novel.
All in all, the second edition of the novel is a far cry from the first, and I believe that it is so in a remarkably good way. The character of Kid Zero was completely revamped from being something of an annoyance to one of the best bits of comedic relief through the story. . . as well as being set up to be quite a tragic figure in future books. And there’s so much more I could say about the edit’s changes, but many of them would have the possibility of spoiling the ending.
So, I’ve come to terms with the editing process, and, in fact, have found myself somewhat enjoying it. It gives me the chance to ensure I included all of the plans I had in place for the book when I started. . . and now that my focus isn’t on getting McDuck rich (you know. . . like every other writer. . . ?) I find it that much easier to focus on telling the stories I want to tell.
What about you guys? If you write, how do you edit? Or do you?