Fun with Editing
I hear people say it all the time, they hate editing. I, however, don't share this dread.
In first drafts, we write what inspiration thrusts upon us as quickly as possible, getting it all down as it flows into our heads from where ever ideas come from. Everyone agrees that trying to edit in this stage stagnates creativity. So we tear through our keyboards, throwing the words on the page in a frenzy. This apparently, for most people, is where the fun stops. But for me that's where new fun begins.
When we're writing that quickly, what our leading man says to the bad guy at that cliff hanging moment has comes to us in a flash of genius, and before we have a chance to think Oh, that's good! we're already on to what Mr. Badnews says next to stymie our guy's hopes, and on it goes. There is no time to find perfect words, no time to weed out the irrelevant, no chance for using setting in dialogue, or picking up on the nuances of what the characters are thinking and feeling. All that fun stuff comes in the editing process.
The first draft may be where the meat of the story is laid out, but editing is the accouterments that make a story extra special yummy. Lot's of stuff needs to be filled in, fleshed out and fluffed up. But editing isn't just cementing up the gaps in what's still a skeleton of a tale, it's also taking away. Usually lots of taking away. There is the deleting of redundant sentences or even whole paragraphs; there is the trimming of run-on sentences, and the fine tuning overly-wordy narrative. There is the reworking of awkward sounding phrases (for example "overly-worldly narrative" - which I was going to rewrite but thought I'd leave to make my point). All this is an art into itself.
Finding that perfect word that makes the idea come through like a bright light challenges our writing skills. Paring down dialogue, and adding details of body language, until the scene feels perfectly real and as intense or loving or angry as your characters actually feel is so much a part of what great writing is about. I love this process, because when I'm done I have this wonderful finished product; I've solved the puzzle of how to make it all come together. Editing isn't just irritating busy work; it's a huge part of the craft of writing. And if you're like me, there's always lots and lots of editing that needs to be done before your first draft is the great story you envisioned as you wrote it.