Random Inspirations

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The Fun of Editing: “Killing Your Darlings” Right

on November 26, 2013

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post about editing, mostly because I’ve been so focused on my new project, the Amish Hearts series. But lately, I’ve taken a temporary hiatus from the lives and loves of Rebekah and friends as I’ve been performing heavy-duty final edits on my upcoming novel.

And to top it all off, I started a new editing project — I’m totally revamping my first-ever eBook, Unlucky 13.

The idea came about innocuously enough. I loooove the new book cover designer I used for Amish Summer, and thought she’d be the perfect candidate to redesign the cover of Unlucky 13. (I’d designed the original cover. Although I’m good at drawing, I know next to nothing about graphic design. And, unfortunately, it shows. :p )

The designer delivered a gorgeous new cover for Unlucky 13. So, naturally, I decided that the content itself needed to be revamped to go along with that lovely cover.

I’ve learned so much about writing since the Unlucky 13 days. When I self-published Unlucky 13, writing was merely a hobby for me — and one that I wasn’t very open about. I wrote entirely by myself; I steered clear of social media and didn’t attend writers conferences.

As I became more serious about writing and decided to make it a full-time career, I started taking advanced creative writing courses, building my platform, and attending conferences. All of these activities helped my writing style to evolve.

When I began my edits on Unlucky 13 last week, I was dumbfounded by how much I’d actually evolved. The heroine, Jordyn, sounded much too mature for her thirteen years, and sometimes went into totally random ten-page diatribes. There was entirely too much backstory, and the chapters were way too long. Oh, and the story began with a dream sequence.

As Jordyn would say, OMG. I’d successfully committed every possible amateur writing crime. And to top it all off, it was 330 pages — for a YYA novel — mostly because of the aforementioned 10-page diatribes. I heard at a conference that many beginning writers try to get everything cool they’ve ever thought of writing about into one book. And in Unlucky 13, I totally did that.

Now, I’m in the midst of total revisions. One of the most commonly stated editing tips is, “Kill your darlings.” In other words, don’t be afraid to cut. Many of us write flowery sections of prose that show brilliant mastery of wordcraft, but often they’re either a.) unnecessarily wordy, b.) irrelevant to the plotline, or c.) pretentious. I think this happens at any stage of a writer’s development, but I would argue that it happens most in the beginning of the journey.

What are your thoughts on editing a work you wrote years ago versus editing your current writing projects? I’d love to hear your take. 🙂

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