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Line Editing vs Story Editing

In my series writing class today I got this kick to the side of my head that explained why I am never done revising – or even writing.

The lesson explained the process for how to revise a story, and how NOT to revise one, and I realized that I have been doing the how NOT to revise one all this time.

Now, I know that it is not a good idea to edit as I go, and I try hard not to, but… that was the wrong word to use… maybe if I change it to however…

Yeah, I have been doing LINE editing, not story editing. And even when I have finally made it to the end of things and went back I have dove into line editing. I have been starting at the first word in a document on the computer and trying to make the story perfect line by line.  Or I read the stuff I wrote the night before and adjust just one word to a better one and… spend the rest of the day redoing what I had wrote the day before. I’ll NEVER finish a story by doing that.

I think it is time that I went back and wrote those books I have had laying in the dust bin at the back of my mind, only this time I will NOT be line editing as I go. This time I will be writing complete crap because I now realize that I did it right the first time I wrote an 80,000 word novel in 30 days back in 1997. I never paused, I got into the story and let it run away with me and I never changed a single word while I was working on it.

I assumed it was the wrong way to do it when I read the thing the following year, while camping in the lower 48, and discovered that it read like the narration of a game of Dungeons and Dragons. I love the story though, and there are parts that, to this day, I want to squeal with delight at what I did in the story – but, I assumed it was wrong. It was not wrong, I just never gave the poor thing the story edit it needed – I went into line editing it and… it is still not edited past the first chapter nearly 20 years later. Worse, I’ve spent 20 years failing to write anything else because I assumed I did things wrong the first time when I had really done them correctly the first time.

Shit do I wish I had taken this course back then, but it did not exist until… well… now. I’m one of the beta students for it.

Enough rambling, though, time to get back to studying and working.

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