Can you learn self-editing from a book?
I don’t know, but I’m sure hoping that the tips in this book, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to edit yourself into print which was recommended to me by Zoé Perrenoud will help me tighten up my first completed novel in… oh, let’s round it off nicely and say – five years. Its been nearly that long since my last college writing class as well, and so far, the things I’ve read in the book are helpful though most of them merely refresh stuff I had learned ages ago.
To be perfectly honest, I don’t know that I’ve ever truly ‘edited’ one of my novels before. I know, I know. That sounds insane, but one of the reasons I haven’t pursued publishing since I was eleven years old and got a rejection letter that broke my widdle-bitty heart, is that when a manuscript gets to ‘The End’, I tend to put it away and not look at it again. Ever. Sometimes, even before the piece is complete (for instance, my beloved Rudabet story).
Those I have edited, have morphed and changed so much in the second and third drafts that they feel like entirely new novels. Granted, this is going back to High School, but Death in the Family started out a paranormal novella featuring a woman named Sarah (and was actually called Sarah’s Ghost) and ended up a weird murder-filled mystery featuring Sarah’s niece Jacinta and her daughter Jade. Nothing supernatural at all, if I recall. And the trilogy – well, that one didn’t change so much in the edits as it grew from a stand-alone into a three part epic of four girls (and two guys) saving the world with (and from) some demigods.
Back to the present and my current editing dilemma. I am re-learning some valuable techniques and things to look for in my novel, I am. And I will employ them for sure. But on the other hand, I do tend to lack confidence (*gasp*) and like all the bewildered new moms drowning in how-to baby raising books and feeling inadequate compared to all these Super Mommy bloggers, I’m afraid my own unique voice will get lost if I adhere too stringently to the guidelines I read. Not just in this one book, but around the web and beyond.
I should ask some of my recently published contemporaries how they dealt with that. How they maintain their own voices/tones/styles while trying to implement the ‘new’ conventions of modern fiction? Gone are the days when a publishing house would take a novel they felt had potential and let an editor have a go at it; these days, from what I read, novels are often pubbed as-is. Meaning that its the author’s job to make sure its properly edited and vetted before its submitted.
This is going to be a long process, I can tell. *sigh* But to make one’s dreams a reality, one must take the first step.
So this is me, stepping.
(With guidebook in hand, naturally).
Love & Rainbows,