Editing Challenge Day 27: Lather, rinse, repeat

The Blairzone - 27

This is a new part of my 30-Day Editing Challenge. Start at the beginning or find other days here.

WE’RE ALMOST AT THE END OF THE JOURNEY. By this point you’ve re-thought and re-written and re-envisioned; you’ve cut and cut and cut some more; you’ve written back whole scenes that needed replacing. You might start feeling that you’ve lost sight of the whole beautiful creature that is your story. It might be feeling more like the Frankenstein monster at this point: an ungainly stitched together hodgepodge of parts.

So today, it’s time for some healing, as well as for going back over the story and returning to the fundamentals. You’ve cut on a sentence level, for example, and on a scene level, and you’ve probably re-written or added in entirely new scenes to make up for what you’ve lost. But now those new scenes and passages have first-draft-itis all over again. You’re going to have to repeat the process, slimming and trimming and re-focusing.

Say that on an earlier day, you realized you needed more development of a character’s background. You wrote a whole new scene of that character as a child. But now that scene is just as suspect as scenes you have written in the past. Does it further the story? Is it full of wordy phrasings? Does it carry emotional risk? Subject your new edits and additions to the same scrutiny that you subjected the first draft to.

It may sound boring, but we’re almost at the end of the marathon, writers. You want every passage in your story to be held up to the same high standard, and for scenes to feel like they flow from one to the next, not that they’ve been awkwardly stitched together to fix problems and plot holes. So lather, rinse, and repeat today — make sure all the new stuff you’ve added is just as polished as the old stuff that survived the culling.

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