So I recently finished Book 2 of the Flesh & Blood Series (Family Ties) and I'm now editing and getting it ready to send to my publisher. The next step will be writing Book 3 (Brother's Keeper), but let's table that discussion for another post, as I start sweating at the mere mention of starting it.
A lot of writers I see on social media complain about the editing process, and I don't get it. I know that it's arduous at times and can be very daunting...even a little scary, maybe. But I actually enjoy it. It gives me an opportunity to read what I wrote several months ago and remember what I was thinking as I wrote it. I'm able to pick up on plot inconsistencies and errors and I have the freedom to rewrite anything that doesn't work for me anymore. I actually don't get upset when I find spelling, punctuation, grammar or other technical erros. In fact, it makes me laugh at myself a little. Sometimes it's a matter of just typing too fast (I type 100 wpm) and sometimes I can remember that I had a lot of distractions at the time I wrote that particular part and I just wasn't paying enough attention. I hope this doesn't come across too braggy, but I actually don't find a lot of errors when I go back. With those few exceptions I outlined above, I really try to take my time and pay attention to what I'm writing as I go along, so editing doesn't really take that long for me.
HOWEVER, that being said, with Family Ties, I find I have one major problem. This book is a good 6,000 words shorter than Like Father, Like Daughter. Also, a supporting character who was very present in LFLD (Dani, Libby's best friend) is sort of behind the curtains more in this book. She is mentioned, but she doesn't make a personal appearance. I'm not sure I like this. Perhaps I can kill two birds with one stone by writing another chapter or two that bring Dani into the story more. Perhaps I can make her say or do something that will spur Libby on in her search for the truth. It has to matter. I will never, ever again just add words to add words (as my last agent made me do to LFLD). I'd rather my book wind up on the shorter side, but be organic, than to have a longer book with 2-3 chapters of fluff. I never, ever want my readers to lose patience or interest in the storyline. I'll have to think on this quite a bit this weekend and see what I can come up with.
To my fellow writers who are struggling with the editing phase...embrace it! Don't let yourself feel overwhelmed. Take this as an opportunity to reaquaint yourself with your MC and make sure everything works as it should and that all the puzzle pieces are in the right place. Know that you're not alone. Even NY Times Bestselling Authors have to edit their books one they type "The End." Try to make it as enjoyable a process as possible. Go to Starbucks, order a carmamel macchiatto, and take your time. For me, it's like seeing an old friend I haven't seen in ages. And I have to make sure that I am not only catching up with this friend, but I'm making sure that I take care of her, too. Have a friend or family member read over it at the same time. They will probably catch some things you didn't.
In short, don't think of it as torture (as I know some of us do sometimes.) Instead, think of it as an adventure with that old friend we just talked about. No one's perfect. You won't catch every single thing. Just make sure you are doing your story and your MC justice. They deserve all of your attention and patience. Slow down and enjoy the ride.