I am finding the editing process far more enjoyable than I would ever have thought possible. But it IS hard work. Much harder, I think, than banging out the rough draft in a tea-fueled blur during the month of November. I’m usually not a fan of hard work, but so far, at least, I’m loving this process. Why is that?
One reason is that I am watching my story take shape. Each hour of tinkering tightens the plot, reveals more about who my characters are, cuts away the unnecessary fluff. Slowly my indistinct story is coming in to focus. I find this thrilling.
But equally important as “making my novel not crappy” is the way writing buddies turn the process in to something almost . . . fun.
I recently wrote a very short story, and got critique from several people. And each person noticed something different that helped make the story better. And each person also really appreciated something I’d done, and said so. That part was awesome! I knew getting critique would teach me things about story writing. I didn’t realize it would also teach me things about my critique partners–each critiquer notices different things. Some are more like story engineers, excellent at determining whether or not your structure is sound. Others are like story psychologists, questioning your characters’ motives, helping you figure out what makes them tick. And still others are story polishers, finding your awkward phrasing and imperfect punctuation and suggesting ways to correct them.
So if I didn’t convince you of the value of a writing buddy before, here’s a new reason; without a writing buddy (or several), your story might never realize it’s full potential.
The writing buddy is the first critique partner you need. The one who knows you, and so will be very gentle, but will also have good ideas and suggestions for making your story work. When you get to a scene you wrote in a moment of feverish abandon, and now you’re looking at it going “What was I thinking? And what do I do about this now?” your writing buddy can a) convince you NOT to chuck the computer out the window and b) read the unedited mess and help you figure out what you were actually trying to accomplish in that section. Writing Buddy Laura is really good at saying, “Um, Michelle? Yeah, this chapter really needs to have a point.” (She also flatters my ego by saying she wants to be just like me. Sometimes lies aren’t so bad. But that’s really beside the point.)
So do it. Find someone to share the journey with. Your book will be better for it, and you’ll have a lot more fun on the way.