Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.
Stephen King, On Writing: a Memoir of the Craft
Having had six weeks or so away from my novel, I’ve come back to it, while I wait on my readers’ opinions, to do a little tinkering. Removing this sentence or that word, adding in a little bit here or there. Nothing major, just a bit of shining rather than polishing.
It’s the sort of thing, the changing of odd words or rewriting of sentences, which can go on indefinitely – which can a lead a manuscript to be never finished.
I quite like tinkering. I print out the entire text and sit with my pen (I really need to get myself an official Red Pen for it) in hand and Radio 4 in the background, and see what I’ve written, and whether I can find a better word or phrase. Or whether I’ve just fallen into a giant, heffalump-catching plot-hole, or tripped over a woozle-like inconsistency.When I find them, I curse and send a telepathic warning to the readers over the danger to come.
They say that the final manuscript rarely bears much resemblance to the first draft. Certainly much has changed with mine, and the entire thing bears little resemblance to the stray thought in a literature class which sparked it.
Fortunately I don’t feel too attached to the bits which I do cut, but possibly this is because I am just tinkering. I’m not, at this point, rewriting. That just seems rude, while others read it in its current form.
How do you feel about editing?