Ten Ways to Be Your Own Best Editor

I’ve been reading through the novel I wrote last year in November and December. When I finished it, I read the whole thing aloud to Angie, night after night for maybe a week. I haven’t been able to bring myself to reread more than the first few pages of it since until this month when I’ve been up against a deadline with some writing cohorts. Now I know why: the first pages aren’t very good. They’re slightly terrible. Reading them I became tremendously discouraged, because I had really liked this book. But then an amazing thing happened: as I read, the book became better. Which is to say, as I wrote it, the writing became better. It’s not even throughout and it needs the revision I am visiting upon it, but it hits its stride about 15 pages in, and I was able to hit my editorial stride and read the whole thing, taking notes, making my comments in the margins, and in general being the kind of editor I always wish I had–someone like me! The time I’d taken off also gave me the distance to be willing to jettison those first 15 pages, to realize that my character might be happy being madly in love with his fiance the whole book through but that it really didn’t make for an exciting plot, and to see that my character was wussing out on taking action not because that is more “realistic,” but because I’d been so tired while I was writing the book. Now I have to rip out the seams and move pieces around and then resew...