Getting the snip
  • Sue Hawley

Getting the snip


When authors get together (and we do, we're not total recluses!) one of the most discussed topics is how to handle the editing process.: Do you overhaul your book book completely? Pull chapters and rearrange things? Attempt to edit as you go? Different authors handle the process in their own way. I’ve known authors who chuck the entire manuscript and start over from the beginning. Personally, this would stop me in my tracks and the book would probably never move another inch. The mere thought of overhauling a book to that extent is overwhelming. I actually have a manuscript I’m ignoring due to the fact that, while the story is solid, I have too many characters, too many sub-plots, and way too much rewriting to be done. I shudder to think about the amount of work to be done- it’s easier to pretend it doesn’t exist at all. It was my first attempt at writing a book and I learned tons, mostly what not to do!


I know authors who only rewrite certain chapters or scenes. This is a solid approach without the burden of starting over from scratch and one I've used when I’ve written myself into a corner. Rather than rewrite I’ll simply write myself out of the mess. This particular path tends to be a bit dicey but it has helped to take me in directions I would never have thought of otherwise.


Other authors tinker here and there throughout their manuscripts. This approach is probably closer to how I handle edits. Because I don't like a ton of detail in books I read I tend to skimp on details in my own writing. This leads to a few problems. You, the reader, must be able to see what is in my head. Little details such as what the characters actually look like, the scenery surrounding a dead body, or something as simple as Peg’s kitchen all play a part in painting the overall picture for readers. I try to describe people, landscape and personalities as I write, but it is a must for me to reread the manuscript numerous times to ensure there are enough details to bring the story to life- without the problem of too much detail. It’s a tough balancing act for writers but we work diligently so a reader can see the book run as a movie in their own heads.


Writing is a process unique to each author. Personally, I normally find it fun and exhilarating. But there are those moments of sheer panic as I find myself clueless concerning what happens next. I know where it needs to go, but it’s the how that can be a bit tricky. Sometimes going back and tweaking a chapter or section of the manuscript will nudge an idea to the front of my mind and open the path. So, while I don't *love* editing it can be more than just a necessary part of the process: it can be the thing that clears the way for the story to develop.


To all my author friends: How do you each tackle the problems involved in writing?

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