Monday, August 20, 2012

5 Step Approach to Self-Editing


My edits arrived from my awesome editor Denise at Carina Press. She prepared me for them in her cover letter. First was the acknowledged improvement from my first manuscript-a reduction in split commas and improvement with point-of-view. (Please be impressed that there is an em dash-validation that I know my split commas.)
A look at the edits in the manuscript could have been daunting but I found them categorize into: character development and information flows. I noticed that some parts of the story were well developed and others were not. I tried to understand why.
I came across an article in Writer’s Digest about the 5 Step Approach to Self-Editing that made me understand the inconsistency. It’s written by James Scott Bell. He likens the process to the geyser, La Bufadora in Mexico. It’s a natural blowhole. The tide rolls in to the underwater cave, the pressure builds, and blasts a geyser to the surface. Some are loud and spectacular and others are quiet and barely visible. The water calms and waits for the next one. He compares that to the creative writing process. 
He said that sometimes we turn off our imaginations during the quiet periods. For me it explained why some of my character development and information flows were spectacular and others barely visible. The power is in the details.
Mr. Bell goes to describe the issues as deriving from left-brain, right-brain activity-creativity vs analysis. He ends his article with four steps for self-editing.
  1. Identify a highly charged moment in your book.
  2. Make a list of possible actions, gestures, or setting descriptions that might further reflect the scene to make it stronger.
  3. List at least 20-25 possibilities, as fast as you can.
  4. Craft a paragraph using the best details for your list then edit the text until is sings.

I hope you read his article and find it as helpful as I did.
How do you approach the doldrums of creativity when that analysis takes over? How do you get re-inspired?