In today’s Journal
* Thanks, Fabien
* Thanks, Danny
* Topic: Editing? Nope, Not Me
* Of Interest
Thanks to a response from French author Fabien Delorme on a comment I left on Dean’s site, I revised both my author site at HarveyStanbrough.com and my publisher site at StoneThreadPublishing.com. Check them out if you like. Things are a lot easier to find. The former is now more about Writers, and the latter is more about The Writing.
I’ll be working on the sites a bit more today, and maybe writing a little too.
And thanks to author D.W. “Danny” Patterson for passing along two bits of marketing information. He wrote
“I saw your post on Dean’s site about needing to market and was wondering if you had seen these two sites:
“Patty Jansen’s Ebookaroo [link in today’s “Of Interest”]
Patty will put your book up for free on her newsletter. She does like to offer 99 cent specials, I’ve seen some listed at full price though.
“Sarah A Hoyt’s site AccordingToHoyt [link in today’s “Of Interest”]
Which is her blog but she does a promo of others’ books for free, usually on Sundays. It’s a conservative crowd though.
“Once, the stars aligned and I got up to three or four (don’t remember now) on the New Releases, Hard Science Fiction on Amazon and their sites kicked it off.
Topic: Editing? Nope, Not Me
A friend emailed to ask, “How long after you finish a story do you wait to edit? I usually wait a few days (three tops) to let it sit and work on other projects.”
As I replied to him, I’ve heard others say that’s a good idea. Some even put a manuscript away for a week or two before looking at it again. And a long, long, long time ago, I used to do the same thing.
I don’t do that anymore. Nor do I make an editing pass at all.
For one thing, I don’t place that much importance on something as insignificant as a short story or novel. It’s only a story. It isn’t important At All other than whatever importance the reader assigns to it.
If a story changes a reader’s life, wonderful. If it only improves a reader’s mood or causes her to think about something in a new way, great. But if it does no more than provide her with a few minutes’ (short story) or hours’ (novel) entertainment, that’s good enough.
And you might think a story is better if you replace the word “under” with “beneath” (for example) during an editing pass. If you didn’t think the change would make the story better, you wouldn’t do it, right? But obviously your characters, via your creative subconscious, thought the other one was adequate. If they hadn’t, they wouldn’t have used it.
Once you start “choosing” words and allowing your conscious, critical mind to override your creative subconscious, you’re lost. You’re sending a message to your creative subconscious that you don’t trust it, and eventually it will shut down.
Besides, if you’ve done your job as a storyteller, the reader won’t notice whether you used “under” or “beneath.” She’ll be too deeply engaged in your story.
The sure way to bore the reader and pull her out of your story is to write it with more critical-mind input. For just one example, any reader with even half a brain will actually like your story less if you’re one of those who believe “that” and “which” are interchangeable (they aren’t) and make sure you alternate your use of them during your editing pass. Cringe.
If you’re wondering, here’s what I do instead of editing:
First, I channel my POV character through my creative subconscious. I trust my characters, and I write the story as the POV character conveys it to me. After all, the characters, not I, are actually living the story. So I let them tell it, albeit through my fingers.
Second, after each writing session (about one hour and about 1,000 words), I take a break of a few minutes. When I come back to the manuscript, I cycle back through what I wrote during the previous session.
Note: Some writers will try to tell you that cycling is just editing by another name. It isn’t. Here’s the difference: If your conscious, critical mind is involved — if you’re “looking for” errors to correct and ways to improve the writing — you’re editing. Cycling, like writing, is a function of the creative subconscious, not of the conscious, critical mind.
“Cycling” only means I read back over what I wrote during the previous session, but — and this is the most important thing — I read as a Reader, not as a writer or editor. I read the same way I write: enjoying the story and with my creative subconscious engaged. My fingers lay on the keys as I read, and I allow my characters to touch the story as I go.
In other words, I’m not consciously “looking for” anything as I read. As anyone who’s ever been a member of a critique group can tell you, if you go into any story “looking for” something, you will find it. But the “flaw” one person finds is not a flaw to the next person. It’s perfectly acceptable or even preferable.
As I cycle, my characters correct any typos that pop out at them, but they don’t do critical-mind comparisons. They might change a word, but only because that’s what it should have been in the first place, not because it’s “better.” They might also add a bit of description that I failed to include earlier because they were racing so fast through the story that I didn’t quite keep up.
The key is, the characters are doing all of this through my creative subconscious. I’m not allowing my critical mind to interfere and “correct” my characters. That’s the difference between cycling and editing. And when I get back to the white space where I took my break, I’m back in the story and I just continue writing.
If you wonder, cycling through the previous session of about 1000 words takes only as long it takes to read that part of the story. Editing would take much longer because I’d be concentrating, looking for things.
If you ever get mired down while you’re “cycling,” check in with yourself. You’re not cycling. You’re editing.
Talk with you again soon.
See “Front List and Back List” at https://www.deanwesleysmith.com/front-list-and-back-list/. A lot of good comments on this one.
See “Patty Jansen’s Ebookaroo” at https://pattyjansen.com/ebookaroo/.
See “Sarah A Hoyt’s AccordingToHoyt” at https://accordingtohoyt.com.
See “Top 10 Social Media Mistakes for Writers” at https://killzoneblog.com/2022/04/top-10-social-media-mistakes-for-writers.html. Seemed appropriate for today in light of my recent marketing sub-theme. Especially see her Tip 9.
See “Why So Many Blogs and Newsletters Aren’t Worth the Writer’s Effort” at https://www.janefriedman.com/why-so-many-blogs-and-newsletters-arent-worth-the-writers-effort/.
See “Leathery Wings and Petrichor” at https://killzoneblog.com/2022/04/leathery-wings-and-petrichor.html. A fairly good post on description.
See “More Pictures of Writers of the Future” at https://www.deanwesleysmith.com/more-pictures-of-writers-of-the-future/.
See “Let Fiction Be Fiction” at https://www.thepassivevoice.com/let-fiction-be-fiction/. I almost stopped reading when I saw this was an article by a person whose first novel was published last April, but PG’s take pulled it out of the fire.
Disclaimer: In this blog, I provide advice on writing fiction. I advocate a technique called Writing Into the Dark. To be crystal clear, WITD is not “the only way” to write, nor will I ever say it is. However, as I am the only writer who advocates WITD both publicly and regularly, I will continue to do so, among myriad other topics.