Writing is definitely the most fun part in creating a story. The author comes up with creative and wonderful ideas for their characters and the overarching plot. Everything feels exciting and like a breath of fresh air. Editing, on the other hand, is a grueling and painful process. Editing is when the work is analyzed and reviewed by the author and, hopefully, an editor. It’s here where ideas and concepts die through refinement. But it’s also where the story is really made into something greater than the sum of its parts. As hard as editing is, it is what makes a story worth telling.
As the author, the greatest difficulty when editing a story is removing the underlying bias towards it. It’s difficult to review something you’ve worked so hard on and for so long to find its faults. Having editors is essential to see things that the author normally wouldn’t. A copyeditor will find the grammar errors that are typically missed while a content editor would look at the characters, logic, and plot of the story. Both are incredibly important in creating the final draft. When my editors would give me feedback regarding certain parts of my story, there would always be a moment where I’d say “oh…” and have to really rethink how I wrote something. It’s even more helpful when your editor challenges you on something, especially on how a character acts in a specific scene. In some moments, it has led to smoother character development and made ideas easier to grasp for the reader.
I remember how one of the characters I found interesting in the story came from the editing process rather than the initial story. There was a moment that changed everything, but it came from a random person irrelevant to the story. However, when I thought about it, the opportunity to create a more dramatic moment if the one who did the deed was a character the reader got to understand. It ultimately made for a more interesting and engaging story.
My own journey in the editing process still sees me throwing my revisions in as well. Writing an overall series requires setting up moments in books that may not come to fruition until later on. These moments still need to fit in the story and not come off as jarring or irrelevant to what’s happening. I found the best way to review your own work is to step away from it. While my editor was working on the draft I provided, I didn’t look at my story. I worked on book 3’s outline and character development plan in the meantime. When he would have questions I would look over those parts and then answer any questions or work with him to improve it, but other than that I wouldn’t touch it. When he was done all of his notes, I then started applying them to the final draft and, because of the five to six-month break from my story, I viewed it differently. I saw grammatical errors more clearly and also noticed when certain parts of the story would not quite make sense. Its led me to rewrite scenes to fit better and focus on character development.
But I also noticed something that was completely unintentional but it caused me to question something in my work. I draw a lot of inspiration of various mythologies all over the world because I love history and mythologies. When I started doing more research, I realized that there are parts of my story that reflect the concepts of Yūrei, Onryō and Hitodama from the Shinto religion almost detail for detail. It’s caused me to consider if I want this to be referenced directly to keep my story culturally appropriate as the setting and the main character are all heavily influenced by Japanese mythology. But I worry that doing so may not be appropriate as it’s still a religion practiced in this day and age. There’s also the issue that, while the similarities are striking, there are differences that are integral to the story and the overall series. Its something I never would have considered had I not took the time to edit my own work after taking a break from it.
The editing process is both wonderful and painful as the author. But being a self-published author, it’s impossible not to be involved as you need to create the best story that you can. Ultimately I’ve found it enlightening and helpful for understanding my own work and process.
Hope this helps!
– Raphael 😊
P.S: I do want to say that if you can’t find editors, taking a break from your work and then coming back to it can definitely help in editing your own work. Also having test readers and using things like Grammarly can help as well!