Guest Post: Editing
When I wrote Outcasts of the Worlds a couple years ago, it was a very informative experience into the Wonderful World of Editing. Or, if you prefer, a self-inflicted Hell!
Talking about my editing process is almost tantamount to talking about my writing process. Almost any given day, if I’m writing, I start out by editing.
When I sit down, I seldom crack into a new scene right off the back. I first open whatever I did yesterday, and generally load up whatever music I was playing as well (I’m a big fan of video game soundtracks, as they provide good atmosphere while generally remaining tonally consistent).
It’s a this point that I reread what I’d written the day before, and doing so helps in two ways. The first being, it helps me get back in the mood before writing something new.
The second, and this is the important one: I’m going in with fresh eyes. I find when I’m writing, I tend to overlook the minutea of the things needing to be fixed. Sometimes this is little errors. Sometimes this is sentances, or paragraphs.
But the main rule is I don’t move forward until I’m content with what I’m leaving behind.
If every the story gets stuck, I’ll fall back much further than just the previous scene. I might roll back to the start of the chapter, the previous chapter, or even the whole book, depending on how far along I am.
This approach has resulted deleting whole scenes, and sometimes a chapter’s worth of work. I regret nothing.
Of course, this is the front half. My biggest concern once I finish a book (I’ve done two now!) is trimming the word count as much as I can, especially since I already write Very Long Stuffs. I’ll take brevity where I can get it.
The editing process, especially in working with my actual editor, has made me approach everything with an economy of words in mind. I.E., if I can, cut down to seven where I first used twelve, fifteen where I used eighteen. Ten to nine. Trim where I can.
The funny thing is, this process bled back into the second book when finding a character’s voice. Shea is a new character, appearing a third or so of the way in. With this interest in trimming words in mind, and having a few characters who are already a bit flowery, I decided to go the opposite with Shea.
Everything she says is parred down, as much as possible, while striving to retain the original meaning. So, for example, a line in chapter seven probably started something like:
“That’s a daft plan. You know that, right?”
And ended up like:
“Daft plan. Know that, right?”
The final word count for Outcasts was approx. 140,500. Give or take. One of my main goals with, Killers, Traitors, & Runaways, my second book, was to get a lower word count in.
And I succeeded, by nearly a thousand. As long as my works have been, I try to make everything that stays in count for something.
Or be funny. Funny is good too.
About the Book
Title: Killers, Traitors & Runaways (Outcasts of the World II)
Author: Lucas Aubrey Paynter
Genre: Cosmic Fantasy
As reality nears its final days, worlds fall to ruin. A benevolent god is shackled, and when freed, will create a new one … allowing only the pure of heart. A company of seven have united on a bloody quest to stop him, but have little hope of emerging victorious.
The outcasts are adrift—they have a mission but no means to fulfill it. Airia Rousow, the fallen goddess who set them on their path, is gone. Guardian Poe, her intended successor, believes deification will absolve him of his sins and his remorse alike. And Zella Renivar, daughter of the Living God, is still hunted by her father’s agents, drawing danger on them all.
Trapped in this storm, Flynn is able to find and open the ways between worlds, but cannot discern which path is the right one. Since losing the trust of his closest friend, the temptation to fall back on his former, deceitful ways grows with every crisis he faces.
These are heroes not of virtue, but of circumstance—and it will fall on Flynn to keep them all together.
Lucas Aubrey Paynter hails from the mythical land of Burbank, California, where there are most likely no other writers at all.
Back in 2014, he published Outcasts of the Worlds, and he’s now releasing its follow-up, Killers, Traitors, & Runaways.
A fan of gray-area storytelling and often a devil’s advocate, Lucas enjoys consuming stories from a variety of mediums, believing there’s no limit to what form a good narrative can take.