Now the hard part begins. After sending the draft of my YA novel to a few trusted readers, I’m sitting down myself and marching through it from start to finish. Oy vey! What can I say? Some of it sings and dances off the page and some of it sags and dithers. There are whole sections that I zealously reworked and thought were in good shape. But now that I’ve put some daylight and distance between my rewrite and my editorial eye, I see lots of problems. Sentences are out of sequence, there are gaps because I cut too much, and paragraphs need to be tightened and reordered. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that because I’m coming to my full reading with some distance, the problems in the text are painfully apparent. In fact, they’re jumping right out and smacking me in the head! How, I wonder, could I have ever thought that this sentence or that paragraph was working after I rewrote it? Oh, well. Back to the drawing board.
Distance does help, I’m finding. Because I rewrote the early chapters of my story quite a while ago, I’m returning to them with a fresh eye and some objectivity. Assume the role of a reader and see where things lag and sag: that’s what I need to do now. I’ve always found this extremely challenging. Like every writer, I find myself very attached to certain phrases and ideas and find it hard to surrender them. But it’s painfully clear that however entrancing they seem, they simply don’t work. Sometimes the culprit is overwriting, sometimes it’s over explaining. But whatever it is, it seems to get in the way of the story — it’s a rock on the reader’s road and needs to be changed or cut. Painful, but necessary.
Do you find this kind of cool, objective editing of your own work difficult? Is there any advice you have to make it go more smoothly?