Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Editing and Your Teeth

That title seems horribly incongruous. Yet, I mean every word of it. Let me start this post by asking you a question: Can editing really be your friend?

Let me ask a second question: Is editing really necessary?

Well, here's another question to think about while you ponder the veracity of the first two: Does the sun rise every morning?

The answer to the third question is the answer to the other two as well. Yes.

You must edit. You must go back and get rid of the excess. You must face the daunting task of wiping away scores of words from your computer -- the very words that fill your heart with joy. You MUST do this because those superfluous words do nothing for the story. As in, they are only there because it sounds good.

Sounding good is really not good, in the literary world. Because most of the time when you think you sound good, you sound like a prolific seal, barking up a storm over nothing. And that, my friends, is no good. Good writing comes from knowing how to edit your words. Plain and simple.

Editing is like brushing your teeth. Really. You have to take care of your teeth to keep them healthy and shiny. That means brushing, flossing, rinsing and more. If you don't, you've got one heck of an ugly mess that needs massive amounts of fixing just to see the start of original, pretty teeth.

Your manuscript is your teeth. No one wants to look at ugly teeth or be near bad breath. It's the same with your writing. Your first draft -- and sometimes second and third with insufficient editing -- are your teeth with gingivitis. No good.

Instead, you have to clean them, polish them and make them shine. And when you do, your writing will be like that magnificent, white smile that gleams from the fake television commercials like fresh snow.

Yes, you have to edit if you want to be a writer. Yes, the sun rises. And yes, you should brush your teeth. Talk about incongruous, and yet, I think you understand my point, right?

Get out there and brush, or rather, edit your stuff. Make editing your best friend.

You'll thank that "best friend editor within" when you get that book deal, or writing gig, and someone needs a headshot or interview and you'll have an awesome batch of shiny, sparkling material to go with your batch of shiny, sparkling teeth.

2 comments:

  1. I was editing today and a little overwhelmed if I'm being honest. So, thank you for the reminder that it's all worth it. Always love your posts :)

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