Now that I’ve finished writing The Muse Bunny, I’m faced with something considerably less pleasant than the completion of a novel that has ailed me for quite some time… the dreadful editing process. Or more specifically, the reading-my-novel-and-realising-what-an-awful-writer-I-am process.
Since the writing of this novel spanned more than four years, I’m quite concerned about the differences in style. The way I wrote four years ago differs from the way I write now. Some of my sentence structures are different, I don’t used “pretty” and “seemed to” as often, I pay attention to how many times a word is repeated in a paragraph or a page, I’m a better judge of what is necessary and what constitutes an info dump, I know better not to go crazy with speech tags and I know that too many adverbs can be a bad thing. I also know that too many one-liners on a page can now cause me to twitch.
Occasionally I look at some things I wrote before and wince. I no longer have my very first stories due to a terrible mistake on my part, but I do have some left. Reading them does make me wince and cringe and shake my head in amusement, but I wouldn’t edit them. Maybe I’d rewrite them, but I would still keep the original manuscript… hidden away where they can never see the light of day. I’d be too embarrassed to let anyone read them! Today I looked at some of my old fanfics and found that I actually used things like “plz” and “urs” in my author notes. I was appalled. At one point one of my characters used three exclamation points!!!
One thing that amuses me about the way I used to write is that I would allow myself to be limited by the amount of pages in my notebook. Even if the story still needed some (or a lot of) space, I would wrap things up in the span of two or three pages… usually by killing someone or everyone off, or closing at a cliffhanger. Another thing I would do often is include damsels in distress who just could not do anything without the help of the hero. I know, I know… I was terrible.
That said, it feels like I’ve got my work cut out for me. Thankfully, I recently discovered a useful tool that helps me detect repeated words and clichés. If you don’t have SmartEdit, I suggest you download it; it’s really helpful! I also have my fiancé to help me out with everything. While there may be things I alone can be the judge of, it does help to have an editor on hand.
Do you like to look at your old stories and check up on your progress? What are some things you used to do that you wouldn’t be caught dead doing at this time?