Anyone else get paranoid when they’re editing (or self-editing) a manuscript and there are almost no corrections on a page? I am working my way through Blood Hunt, going on 16 chapters now, and so far all I’ve been fixing are contractions and a word choice here or there. I won’t lie, it had me worried until I remembered I’d already done a hard edit of this part when I hit the halfway point. Still, it somehow doesn’t seem right to leave a page without red ink.
There is a spectrum of writers, ranging from “My word is magic, and how dare you meddle with it!” to “Bleed me like one of your French pigs!” I’m closer to the latter. When I edit my own manuscripts (before they go to a professional for more), I am my worst possible critic. On any given printed page, there will be a sea of red cross-outs, between-line inserts, and little star symbols which indicate a larger addition. The margins will be filled up with increasingly diminutive script as I run out of space and a tiny arrow (if it fits) to indicate there is more on the other side of the page. Which will be filled with more additions.
That is normal for me. I sort of edit as I go, looking over the last chapter I wrote before putting down a new one, but you don’t really notice the big issues until you get some distance and perspective. Seeing something with fresh eyes is…well, it can be frustrating sometimes. I make faces and mutter to myself, and I treat the story as if I wasn’t the one to write it. Hence all the red. If you’ve ever had me look over anything you wrote, you know I don’t sugar coat or pull punches–ever. Rest assured, I’m just as tough on myself.
So when I see a page and can’t find anything majorly wrong with it, it’s an instant, “Waaait a minute…” Am I losing my edge? Did I suddenly slide down the scale to complacency? Have I become one of those people who can’t find enough objectivity to truly critique their own work? What is happening to me??
Self-doubt, crippling at the best of times, is not a good thing to feel about a fully finished manuscript, believe you me.
But, as it turns out, this half of the book should be relatively error-free (see the above photo for proof of previous edit on this part). It’s the second half that will be brutally massacred and cosmetically enhanced to within an inch of its life. I will hack that thing to pieces and rearrange its innards, and stretch it on a rack to see the minutest details of where plot holes or character irregularities might hide. There won’t be a page, or a line that won’t have angry red slashes all over it. The pages will drip red ink until my hand cramps and my pen dries out.
And that makes me feel so much better.
Until next time! Tee-hee…