No, I did not fall off the edge of the world in a leaky pirate vessel, nor vanish in an untimely explosion of fairy dust.
I've been right here, hunkered down over the keyboard, hammering out my latest revision of Beast: A Love Story. And as much as I love this book, and as mind-expandingly fabulous my editor Kaylan Adair's suggestions have been for tweaking it into even better shape, let's hope this really in the last revision!
I don't want to dither around too much longer; I want to launch Beast in all his glory out into the world. But I also want him to be as buff as possible—and really, really ready for his close-up. And so I cobble away, word by word, sentence by sentence, scene by scene...well, you get the idea.
Fortunately, I love to edit. By this time in the process, you have a complete draft to work on, so you know where the plot is going, and more or less how it's getting there. (Let's hope so, anyway. Expect delays if you're still monkeying around with story structure at this late date.)
|Be ready to kill, or at least cut your darlings|
So now it's time for the more detailed wordsmithing—reorganizing sentences, phrase by phrase, and finding exactly le mot juste (as they say in France—which happens to be where Beast takes place, and where the best-known Beauty and the Beast tales originated). Picking the right word—this is the fun part for me!
But editing also involves pruning, and you have to buck up and be ready to kill your darlings. (Wait, that sentence was perfect! Except, that plot point has now been discarded. Oh, the humanity!) In the best-case scenario, you have the luxury of time (as I've had, this month) to approach this process with a scalpel, not a broadsword.
Instead of the wholesale slaughter of entire paragraphs (although I've done plenty of that too), you have to select the most important ideas in that great slog of verbiage and find somewhere else to slot them in. In the sneakiest manner possible, of course, so it will look seamless, as if each sentence had never been anywhere else.
Not to be too anal about it, but every word counts. And as I race (okay, crawl) toward the finish line, I want to get as much juice as I can from every single one!
(Above: Illuminated manuscript, pre-1492, found here)