A Two-Sided Look at Book Editing

Editing fiction is something I have never accomplished to an extent I would like to. I have never completed a book to a satisfactory level. Is it common for authors to be unsatisfied with their work? I don’t know. Even so, with life looking very strange around me still and a nice bird chattering outside my window and morning light brightening, I still have come to understand one simple way to start with book editing.

Perhaps there is much more to develop in the story of your first draft. You might have a particular vision that failed to fully manifest in the first version, or you are gradually grasping new and exiting ideas. Development and renewal are important parts of growing the book. That is the one side of book editing.

But the second side is a little more grim. You must take a hard, honest look at what you currently have. Like looking at yourself in a mirror to notice that your hair is unkempt or your shirt is inside-out, so too you need to evaluate your current version of the book and define what its state is. You will ultimately find the solution to the problems you find in it through both your creative writing skills and the ultimate vision you have for it.

I have been faced with a couple of Facebook posts sometimes that tell you things like, “Some books are just there to help you heal and not to publish,” and “Real winners quit. They know when to give up on a project.” . . . As I look at certain traits of my own work-in-progress and see how they are far too true to life, I think with despair, “This book is doomed. It’s not worth publishing. I have to dump the whole lot. I have no story to write.” Very sad. I don’t have an answer to how you know you should give up on a book. I still think there is hope for something new and better to come about. And would it hurt to continue to practice developing a cool world and story as I sit in continued isolation at home? As long as I am shedding the old and taking on the new, I think not.