The Problem with Over-Editing

I learned something yesterday.  Do not edit a story more than two times… Especially if you do not have an extra set of eyes to examine your work.

Case in point:

“He poured to his heart to her…”

“He didn’t supposed…”

(0 )- o)…

Now, the first time I posted Water Phoenix, I was feeling pretty confident in myself.  I posted it, it didn’t get a whole lot of attention, but that’s cool.  My mom approached me after reading it and said “y’know there’s some typos you should probably fix later”.  I said, sure, I’ll try and find time for it maybe.  But I didn’t.  And mom brought it up again.  And again.  And yesterday she finally sat down with me and ran through the entire thing.

I was… A little surprised.  I’m more amused than anything but this reflects on me as a writer when I go and post this stuff on the internet.  If person A is new to the website and looks around at, say, The Bread House, they might think that I’m decent.  If person A sees Water Phoenix instead… Oh dear.

My sit-down with mom brought to surface a couple of things:

  • The more I work on something, the more oblivious I become to my mistakes, even if I do take a break ranging from 1-3 days between drafts.  (The second draft actually came a week or so after the first, so…) My mom said she had the same issue when she painted, and that she would look at her work in a mirror to negate the problem.  I can only imagine that other writers get the same issue, though I don’t know of them.  I don’t know quite how I would apply this “mirror trick” to writing, but I’ll probably figure something out.
  • I am not my own best editor.  I can probably edit maybe one or two times with minimal typos.  The process of editing on my own might actually be causing the typos, even if I am able to polish my content.  My mom is pretty good at this editing thing already so it might be a good idea to just have her look my work over before I go posting it on the web.  If and when I get a fully-fledged book to publish, I will probably hire a professional editor unless I’m just so broke that I can’t afford it.
  • When I write, I tend to go over-the-top.  Drama queen.
    • “Maybe he was hallucinating that it was fake when it was all real and he was going to be caught in a perpetual cycle of real-fake-real-fake…” I don’t think I need to explain this.
  • I tend to describe the scene initially, but never bring it up again.  Here, part of the story occurs at the bottom of a lake.  I describe the general appearance at first but never bring it up again, though the characters should be noticing some fish passing by, bubbles coming up to the surface, or feel resistance when they try to move, to help the scene feel more concrete.  They don’t.
  • I switch between present and past tense at a whim, whatever happens to feel better at the time.  This is a nasty habit because it feels inconsistent and can be difficult to weed out later.  My primary thought on trying to fix this is to write the first page in both present and past tense, and then pick whatever feels better and stick with it.  Whenever I notice that I’m switching tenses again, I switch back, and hopefully as I write more this problem will start to disappear.
  • I like absurdity or other varieties of strangeness in a story, because if used well it can also be deep and interesting, or otherwise amusing.  Unfortunately, this can lend me to writing stuff that just plain makes no sense.
    • “Slowly, he progressed towards nowhere.” You can’t go towards nowhere!
  • In trying to get a point across, I can be incredibly redundant/dwell on things for too long.  I think the best way to fix this would just be writing a story that explores more than one idea so that I have other levels of depth to draw from instead of just rehashing the same concept over and over.
  • I tend to explore the mind too much.  I linger in the character’s thoughts for too long, being overly-philosophical and such.  I need to learn to ground the story in the physical world more.

Sometime after school is over (June 3rd is the last day), I will return to this story and fix it, so if you look, expecting to see funny typos everywhere and don’t see them, that’s why.  I can’t really afford to keep it like that.

Anyway, if you’re reading this sentence, that means you read the whole of my ramble!  Thank you bunches for listening, and have a nice day!

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6 thoughts on “The Problem with Over-Editing

  1. Amanda Allworden says:

    Very nice insight! I heard something once, “editing is where the magic happens”. I completely understand that it can be difficult to edit with confidence on your own. I have my own pool of obliging family members who I ask to take a look over my things. They are priceless resources. Best of luck to you!

    Like

  2. WILLIAM R RININGER says:

    I read the story. I was so “into” the story, I barely noticed the typos. Yes, editing is necessary as your Mom suggests. And, I believe she can be helpful in that area. Keep the stories coming. We love reading them.

    ________________________________

    Liked by 1 person

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