This is the brutal part of writing. Or rather, editing.
You’ve bled words onto the page. You’ve made your story stronger, your characters are walking and talking like actual human beings, you’ve filled the pesky plot holes and unravelled those convoluted bits that just didn’t work. You’re inching closer and closer to THE END.
And then, out of nowhere, your brain tells you somebody is surplus to requirements. You send yourself an email simply titled DON’T NEED ELAINE. DELETE HER (yes, Caps Lock was fully engaged) because you can’t just drop everything and deal with pesky Elaine right at that minute. And then… you relax. Because it was the right thing to do.
Welcome to my week. Elaine has been deleted. Actually, she still plays a necessary part, but in conversation only (it was more of a row, an interrogation, a dissection). She no longer needs to make an appearance, she no longer has a speaking part. Put it this way, if she were an actor in a film, she wouldn’t be a high earner.
This writing, and now editing, experience has taught me a lot. As I wrote in Murder your darlings a few weeks ago, Anti-Virus has come a long way since its humble beginnings. So have I. I used to find it more challenging to change things, because I used to feel so protective of the words that I had written. These days, I’m clearly focused on the end goal – getting Anti-Virus in the best shape possible before I decide that it’s ready to unleash on the world.
I’m about 80% of the way there with my paper edit (and boy do you notice typos more easily when they’re printed out, compared to when they’re on screen!). I might even finish it by the end of the day. That would be a bonus. Then it’s back to my laptop to tidy up, to incorporate all of the red pen changes into my manuscript. Then it’s hunt the editor – an exciting and scary prospect.
Let’s hope she isn’t called Elaine…