Maybe “bloodbath” is a little harsh. But it’s Chris Pratt. So, it stays.
Now let me tell you what, editing sucks. It’s productive, it makes your writing so much better, it teaches lessons memorably, and it makes you feel that much closer to “I really really like this book!” But it also sucks. Big time. There’s often a very unhealthy does of self-pity, and (I am not above admitting) physical pain.
That said, there are different types of editing for a novel, which basically comes down to who is giving the feedback:
~ The family/friend beta reader: they just like reading and will give you pointers on plot, logistics, tone, and overall amateur-factor.
~The family/friend English major: a shameful experience overall. Good things come from this type of editing, though it might take a while to be able to look them in the eyes again.
~The friend-of-a-friend(-of-a-friend): great for getting an opinion less likely to be skewed by personal relationships or biases.
~The highly educated and philosophically-minded friend: be warned. This feedback can possibly screw with your mind. One moment you think they liked it and then the next moment they’ve convinced you to kill off a necessary main character, and make the bad guy the good guy. And they interpreted all of your characters’ motivations in perplexing ways which forces you to rethink every aspect of your novel. I’m not saying avoid this type of feedback (can be some of the most valuable!), I’m just giving you the heads-up, my friends.
~The Self: This is best done after a long break from your manuscript (minimum 2 weeks). And it wouldn’t hurt to read a handful of wonderfully (or terribly) written novels during that break. My two best self-edits: 1) A read-through after 3 years away from the project, and 2) An edit round after reading a horribly, I mean horribly, written book that made me want to strangle the author with her own crazy-redundant dialogue and hyperboles. (The only reason I continued reading was because I knew the painful experience would help me edit my own manuscript.)
~The professional editor: this one is necessary. Also, this one huuuuurts. Not just because their great suggestions can sometimes mean a crap load of re-working. And not just because they can make you giddy one paragraph, then you shamefully melt into the floorboards the next. But it’s a lot harder to discuss the why behind their suggestions. Yeah, you can email back and forth a little, but they are busy people. They’re not going to write you four paragraphs on why that character is lame (to which you can argue defensively), they’re going to do it in one sentence. You can’t really argue with that. They get right down to the meat of the problem and tell you that such-and-such is lame. Or illogical. Or stupid. Or cliche. Then you have to fix it, send it back, and hope that your “fixes” adequately addressed both their concerns and your pride. Oh, and let’s not forget that when they point out the exact same mistake for the 37th time, you feel so secure in your English education. Folks, I now know how to properly type ellipses, to not type two spaces between sentences, and how to spell freaking “duffel.” Thank heavens for Find/Replace.
As of right now, I’m waiting to hear back from my editor for the second time. I sent her my newly revised manuscript–based off of her edits and suggestions–and am now second guessing nearly every plot/character “fix” I made. Does my re-working of the lame-o character work? Did I increase the romantic tension enough? Did I miss a
duffle duffel? And why the heck did I have to write duffel so many times in the first place?
So, pray for me, guys. It just might be another bloodbath.
p.s. If my editor is reading this, please ignore the word “bloodbath” and insert “enlightening, improving, & informative experience.” I’m smiling super cute right now!