Friday, November 18, 2011

Viewing your story from space - macro-level editing

Macro-level editing doesn't come easy to me, but I have a few tricks that may help your writing.

Macro-level editing, like the title of this blog entails, is viewing your entire story as a whole.  Some writers have been known to spread out the printed pages, literally, either across the floor or papered the walls of their office.  I've never resorted to this, but if it works for you, do it.  Physically viewing it as such gives a feel of how weighty the words are, the amount of dialogue, even the amount of "white space."  Honestly, it shouldn't look like a brick wall, the pages solid with words.  It should be chopped, short paragraphs mixed in with long, and plenty of dialogue.  If you don't believe me, pick up your favorite book.  What does it look like?

First and foremost, your story has to be complete.  The first draft, I mean.  Then, what I do, is take a few weeks off, doing something totally different before tackling this story again.  Afterwards, when I'm ready, I take the printed pages and read the entire thing as fast as I can.

Reading it in this fashion accomplishes a few things.  How does the story flow, smoothly or choppy?. How does it sound?  Does the plot make sense?  Is the plot realistic for the characters involved?  Do the characters grow?  Do we connect with the characters?  Is there a common thread tying the story together?  Do your multiple plotlines converge neatly at the end?

It's a lot to think about, but if you can work on all of these--and this is, by no means, a conclusive list--then your story will be much better and you can work on the next step: micro-level editing.

At this point in the macro-level editing process, you may even see if you have blocks of exposition that could be removed, because, quite frankly, even though this worked for Tolkien, it doesn't work well with today's readers, for the most part.  Few today can actually pull this off.  Don't fool yourself.  You're probably not one of them.

Are there entire chapters that could be eliminated, because they do nothing to further the story?  It's happened to me, and more than likely to you too.

Take a month or two and work through your story in this manner.  Then, once you feel it looks better viewing it from space, it's time to move to micro-level editing.

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