Once upon a time, I worked for a small engineering company as a software developer. The company did OSHA required testing for businesses. I wrote the software that analyzed the test data and generated the required reports. All was well until the owner decided we should market the software. I wrote a bunch of new code, a user manual, and some sales material (believe me, writing fiction is a lot more fun) and we started doing demos. The software did what it was supposed to do (quite nicely, too) but inevitably someone would ask, “Does it do _________?” Now anyone in the software business will tell you the answer to that question is either, “Yes, let me show you,” or “Well, we can certainly add that as a custom feature for you. I’ll get you a quote on the additional cost.” My boss would say, “Oh, that’s a great idea, we’ll add that.” Of course, all these free modifications did two things: they made the original program slow and inefficient and they ate up the profit margin…which led to the end of their venture into software development and my employment with that company.
So what does all that have to do with anything? Well, I realized yesterday that I was doing exactly what my boss had done. I wrote a book. I was very pleased with it. My beta readers all loved it (with suggestions for editing, of course). I knew it was too long and I had to do some serious trimming but in general I thought it worked well. Like my original software program. I started editing and, about the same time, I started blogging and following a lot of writers’ blogs. I was getting a lot of great information and some very nice encouragement, but every time I read a piece of advice, or a ‘do this’ or a ‘don’t do that’, I went racing back to page one and started editing all over again. And then I came to a dead stop on POV (see previous blog).
I think the best piece of advice I’ve read lately was 'know the rules before you break them'. If I’ve managed to write a compelling story with engaging characters and a strong voice, I’ll take my chances with that. If I haven’t written a compelling story with engaging characters and a strong voice, all the obeyed rules in the world aren’t going to help. So I’ve decided to use the tips and advice that I’m picking up from a lot of great blogs (and other sources) as editing tools…to help me see possible problems and potential improvements. And I’m going to remember that if, what, and how I rewrite something is still up to me. And I’m going to stop wringing my hands and get back to work.
As Sammy said, I’ve Gotta Be Me.
Unwriting progress: From the original 150,000 words down to 117,302. Getting started again.
I'm currently enjoying:The Forgotten Man by Robert Crais
Quote of the day: Damn the torpedoes Full speed ahead - Admiral David Glasgow Farragut