When editing, remember that your goal is readability; your prose must flow like the licking of a friendly ocean over the pebbles of your readers’ thoughts.
- Never, ever add details that weren’t part of your original vision. They will have a different energy, and they will create spikes and disruptions in the original flow. Don’t do it. If you’re antsy about the scenario, write a new book with the new details. Never add them into an existing draft. Just say no!
- The overall story is much more important than any individual word. Word choice, whatever the people on the internet say, has a negligible effect on your overall story. People are reading your thoughts; they are hearing your voice. They are, in essence, eating a part of your soul that you’ve squeezed out onto a metaphorical plate. As long as you live a clean (edible) life, and use healthful writing practices, your writing will taste good to the readers’ brains. Overworking individual sentences is like adding more and more salt to the soup. Soon, it is utterly inedible, and makes the reader vomit. Don’t tweak.
- Your goal is to check for actual errors, and muddled passages. For example, if you meant to write “cloths”, and you find that your fingers typed out “clothes”, that is something to fix. Take out the “e”. If you know, or you saw, when you were writing, that the alien had a green shimmer over his exoskeleton, and you find, when editing, that you never wrote that down, write down that the exoskeleton has a green shimmer. You aren’t allowed to add new details, but you must convey an accurate picture of what you saw in your mind when you wrote. You are the bridge between your mental picture and the reader’s mind. Be a solid bridge.
- Stop trying to help the reader. Either the reader is intelligent enough to follow your train of thought, or they aren’t. If they aren’t, you writing differently is never going to make the reader any smarter. Stop trying. Write as smart as you are, and stop “clarifying” your draft while you edit.
- No one cares about your comma usage, as long as the prose flows, and the punctuation never distracts from the story. Seriously. No one cares. The only people who say they care are the people who post ads on author forums, offering to charge you $500 to change all your commas. Stop listening to those people. Just make your prose clean.
- Don’t listen to anyone who lectures you about writing. If they knew how to write to sell stories, they would be selling stories. STOP LISTENING!
- Sex does not sell the way you think it sells. (This does not apply to you if you are already successfully selling erotica.) Most humans are turned off by manipulative sex-writing by an unscrupulous author. Don’t edit sex into your draft because you think it will make you edgy.
Editing should be easy; it should be easier than writing. That’s what I think.
Also, today is Tuesday.