Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Digging into the bull

The reason editing is so damn hard is that nobody can teach you the most critical part of the process: knowing yourself well enough to catch where you're digging into the bullshit. That's why you can't edit yourself very well when you first start out in this writing business. You've got to write quite a few clunkers--a whole mound of shit--before you can become thoroughly attuned to the deeply personal stench of your own crap.

Everybody has their own crap-symptoms. For me, series of 3-sentence paragraphs are a good sign that I am writing around myself, or writing on auto-pilot. The use of the double-dashes is an instant flag, as well. There are other, stinkier things that crop up, too, like mellifluous passages that go nowhere or secretly dump info while looking beautiful. Those are just the obvious signs.

I'm looking forward to the day when I can catch my B.S. and whisk it away without breaking a sweat. I'm getting better and better about it, but I still have blisters from my pitchfork. :)

1 comment:

Miriam S. Forster said...

As my grandfather would say, "Save the watches!" :)

Seriously though, I love it when I realize I'm getting better at catching my own crap. When I did Nanowrimo last year I had a whole list of things I had to go back and fix in the story. I just pulled out the list after a rewrite or two, and wouldn't you know, I'd caught almost everything!

It's very reassuring.