Editing Quirks

So, I’m heavy into my first round of edits for my latest book, currently titled Beauty and the Bouncer. (Which is a fun Contemporary Romance, aka Romantic Comedy, staring an aspiring mechanical engineer and the geek who loves her.) And I realize I’ve developed this odd editing quirk over the last couple books I’ve written.

So, my editing process usually goes something like this:

1. Finish first “Don’t Look Down” draft of the novel (which is a draft where I just write. I don’t go back to reread, and I only go back and edit if there’s something so off with the first part of the novel I must rewrite to get the book on track for the rest of the story.)

2. I let the draft “marinate” untouched for at least a week. (Stephen King recommends something like six weeks but I usually don’t have that kind of patience. I do agree with him that you should take a break after finishing a manuscript. That lets the characters grow and develop just that extra bit more in your brain. The short break also gives you a chance to get some distance from the work, to grow less attached to all those words you’ve been laboring so lovingly to get on the page–words which you will probably have to tweak or move around or even, God forbid, cut entirely at some point in the editing process.)

3. I print the whole darn thing out and attack it with a red pen and then I input the red pen changes into the computer file. 

4. Rinse, repeat step 3 at least twice more. (At some point when it’s polished enough I let my beta readers read it, and, right about when I think it’s good enough to go on submission, I let my mom read it.;P)

So, the weird quirk I’ve noticed in myself occurs during Step 3.

See, I’m a writer who usually likes music on when I’m working, but for the actual writing it usually can’t be anything that has lyrics. Even opera is too distracting. This means my default writing music arefilm soundtracks because there’s a lot of great, evocative just ochestral stuff out there from the movies.

(Like this selection of the great Alan Silvestri score from Back to the Future, which is my latest obsession)

But for editing, that rule is totally flipped. This editing pass I have been on a serious musicals kick. Today alone I’ve listened to Into the Woods, Grease and The Lion King (Broadway Version) and I’m not even done working for the night. I think it’s because inputting the red pen edits is pretty dull work: Scan page for red. Input changes. Delete crossed out words. Move onto next page, etc. It’s not creative, it’s drudgery.

The musicals make it fun, though, because as I’m going through crossing out the word “just” which I’ve used one too many times, I’m also singing along and doing all the dialogue to “Summer Nights” or “Agony” or “Circle of Life” at the top of my lungs. (Which I know my high-strung cat companion really appreciates). The musicals turn my drudge work into a catchy show tune glut instead. And I love me some show tunes.

Do y’all have any strategies for covering metaphorical hard ground more easily? For making drudge work into happy fun times instead?

And now, to leave in the same show tune drunk peppy place of happiness I am in I give you “You’re the One That I Want” from Grease. I dare you not to sing along. I dare you. ;D

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2 thoughts on “Editing Quirks

  1. wordsfallfrommyeyes says:

    Excellent advice, a great post – especially letting the words “marinate” for a week.

  2. Excellent process, very thorough. Yeah, I can’t wait six weeks to let the book “cool off” either! Enjoyed the video selections!

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