Let’s talk about E-D-I-T-I-N-G.
Every author’s nightmare.
Don’t worry, you’re not alone — we all hate this. Wait, that’s not true. . . some sadists actually enjoy pulling apart their baby! It’s all perspective, okay? You can view it as grueling work that is breaking down your dream, or you can view it as an opportunity to really make your book shine and bring out the original story you wanted to tell.
Just do it. You have no other choice. Okay, you do, but it’s not the best way to do this thing called publishing. It’s not what your readers deserve, either. Even if you are constantly editing as you go, you need to edit your first draft. Sure, some authors will edit less than others. Some will need less work because some take a lot more thought and time with their first draft. But everyone’s gotta do it.
Imagine all your book can be.
Editing is a chance to look at your story again: That second cousin with the mole? The subplot with the missing cat? The symbolism of the broken gas gage? This is your chance to bring that out. To brush off the dirt of rushed scenes, half-thought romances, and weak world building bring out your true story — that 5-karat diamond ring that cost three months of income.
You don’t have to do it alone! Get your friends, join a critique group, hire an editor, seek out a beta reader. Your team will see much more than your biased eyes can. You’re Bonnie and Clyde. Simon and Garfunkel. Harry and Ron. Batman and Robin. Regis and Kelly. Beavis and Butthead. You get the point, right?
In and out.
Take breaks. When you first finish your first draft, step away from it for a little while. Write something else, pick up another hobby for a few weeks. Give it a good, thorough read, looking at the big level pictures, think about how you can improve any issues you saw, then step away again while you ask someone else to read it. Don’t overwhelm yourself, or you may blind yourself to issues that every reader will see on their first read. (“Wait, who is Tyler? I thought his name was Taylor.”)
No negative naysaying.
(Okay, this theme of E-D-I-T-I-N-G is just getting cheesy…) Those who edit have plenty of excuses: I don’t need it, I don’t have the time, I’ve gotten so many different opinions, I’ve tried so many different things, I have no idea what to do. You can make all the excuses you want, but at some point, you just have to keep going, hard as it is!
Give it up.
There comes a point when you have to let the book go. You can’t edit forever. Actually, I suppose you can — you can do anything you want with that book — if you want to continually bash your head against a wall. If you never want to move on to a new book. If you’re scared of letting this one go. Give it up. Let it go. Either put it away or give it to the readers and see what they think.