The Nth Circle of Editing Hell

Ok, for a start it’s not really possible to edit a manuscript an infinite ‘n’ number of times. Sooner or later you have to let the Ugly Baby out into the world. As the old saying goes, “art is never completed, only abandoned”.

I’ve just put the finishing touches to my Urban Fantasy Distant Shore (which was the book I spruiked in my ‘Next Big Thing’). My last monumental push was inspired by the deadline for the Queensland Literary Awards, Unpublished Manuscript Award. The competition is always tough, especially for quirky genre works like mine, but it was worth it to support the QLA and to give myself that last bit of motivation to get the thing up to scratch.

Right now I’m drained. I’ve really put everything into doing the final redrafts on this one. Every damn trick I know is in this baby. Not only that, I’ve pushed myself up that sticky slope of manuscript improvement further than ever before.

The problem is, it’s not enough to just have a good manuscript. It’s got to be best you can do and then some.

For me, this meant getting that extra – uncomfortable – brutally honest feedback. Then working to clarify and streamline the prose. Working on word choice – trying to get that perfect verb. As well as all the usual stuff, like eliminating passive voice, using physical responses and sensations in the character to make the experience more direct. Regulating and mixing up sentence length. Over 96,000 words, that’s a lot of work.

Then after all that, I read the work out loud to myself to check the flow and to eliminate those last errors. You can believe I lost my voice over those two days!

What do you focus on when you enter the Nth circle of editing Hell?

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