Moving house is stressful, no one can argue with that but just in case I wasn’t suffering enough, I’ve also got to edit the draft of the 20k word dissertation for my MLitt course and submit the final ms by the deadline of the end of August.
It was only after receiving comments from my dissertation supervisor that I realised that my draft was a rough draft with a capital ‘R’. The feedback was hard to swallow but once I’d nursed my bruised ego, I accepted that there was a lot of room for improvement.
The supervisor’s link to Necessary Fiction and a brilliant article, Thoughts on Revision, by Aaron Gilbreath which helped me accept that “good stuff takes time” and I agree with his view that “writing is revision”.
So in amongst the packing boxes, mostly still sealed up, I’m slowly (tick tock tick tock) but surely working my way through the edits, hoping that my changes are making it better and not worse! Editing is not easy, especially when you’ve gone over the same section again and again. And you have to remind yourself of William Faulkner’s classic advice to be prepared to “kill your darlings”; no matter how long it took you to write, if it doesn’t work, it needs to go! Be bold and get chopping!
But the one tip that I’m putting into practise is to read my writing out loud to get a feel for the rhythm of the words. There was one word used throughout my supervisor’s feedback and it was “awkward”, mainly in relation to dialogue. It was only when I read the dialogue aloud (it’s not unusual for me to talk to myself these days) that I could hear that the words were indeed clumsy and clunky.
I no longer look with critical eyes at my writing but also with critical ears, even if you feel like an eejit when you’re reading your work out to an empty room, try it and you’ll instantly hear if the sentence structure works then ALL you have to do is fix it!
How do you edit your writing? Are you willing to “kill your darlings” to make your writing stronger? What are your editing top tips?