Pheweee. It’s amazing what you come across when you’re editing a first draft, stuff you didn’t even realise you were writing. Or repeating for that matter.
In Tokens of My Confection, which is heading towards publication in (hopefully) the not too distant future, one scene involves my heroine Cady, who is hanging out with her sisters in Garrison Park, making a snowman on Christmas Eve.
When I wrote the first draft, like a lot of writers, I was just trying to get it out of my head, getting all those little bits and pieces and all the ideas in a pile on the page. At that stage, I try not to think too hard about the final product and avoid, wherever possible, editing while I’m still getting the story out of my head. (Of course, I’m completely hopeless at that and do get bogged down with the editing part, because let’s face it, I’m OCD and anxiety-ridden – I strive for ridiculous levels of perfections. But that’s a post for another day.)
The editing process has been a little choppy, particularly because the Darling Husband surprised me with an announcement last week that we would be moving at the end of the year. He’s a nearly thirty year veteran of the Australian Air Force, and we’ve outstayed our welcome here in Western Australia, but this time we’ll be moving without our Gang of Four – seventy five percent, at least, will remain in Western Australia while we post to a base on the other side of the country. (Another reason for OCD and anxiety issues).
Consequently, the editing of Tokens, which started of swimmingly, has stuttered to a less than auspicious pace, while I try to get my head back in the game. (And simultaneously worry about my beloved family being split apart for a couple of years). Today, I’ve been working on Chapter Twenty Six, which includes the above-mentioned snow scene which has turned out to need a considerable amount of editing. The scene itself is fundamentally good, and I’m happy with it, but its the persnickety details which are giving me grief. And in this case, it’s the snowman the girls are building and the amount of time I’ve mentioned ‘snow in their glove-covered hands’. Obviously, I wanted to set the scene, and give the reader a ‘vision’ of what is happening in that scene – the scenery, the women, their outfits, what they’re doing. But I obviously (obviously!!!) got bogged down on those glove-covered hands. They’re EVERYWHERE! And repeated with endless abandon. And way too much. Over and over and over…
You get the picture, and as a writer, and an editor, it’s one of the things I warn people (including myself) to avoid. Don’t ever hit your reader over the head with information. Don’t repeatedly repeat the same piece of information. Give your reader some credit and know that they can invest themselves enough in the story so that when you mention someone’s eyes, you don’t lead with the color of them each and every time. (This is something I’m guilty of doing!).
And once you’ve put those gloves on those characters, and set them to making a snowman in a park in the middle of winter, don’t keep beating the reader over the head with THE GLOVES! They’re there! We know they are on their hands! Don’t beat this snippet of information to death!
And now, I go back to the grindstone and beat those gloves into submission!
‘Til next time.