Thursday, September 9, 2010

Deep Cleaning Needed

Yesterday, I finally finished deep-cleaning my kitchen. Windows, doors, and curtains are their correct colors. Gone are the greasy dust bunnies that lurked on top of each cabinet door and piece of trim. The ceiling fan and light fixtures are sparkling.

What's this got to do with writing? Editing, my friend. Deep cleaning a room is like editing a story. Regular room maintenance--sweeping, de-cluttering, etc--is like writing a story. Getting the nuts and bolts down so to speak. But then you have to eventually clean up the stuff nobody sees on the surface. And when it's done, it all really looks cleaner.

Editing a story is much like that. On the surface, you may end up with a first draft that looks pretty good. Then when you go back to read it later, you find those greasy dust bunnies lurking that aren't perhaps all that obvious. You can still cook dinner in a dusty kitchen, after all. But, when you clean up those greasy dust bunnies of over-used words, bad grammar, and plot holes, the story starts to shine. It was ok before, but now it just looks (and reads) cleaner.

Except, editing is the hardest part, like the deep-cleaning of a room. It's the initial writing that's fun, right? You get into that evil wizard hurling fire at everything in sight. But, when you go back to edit, you see that the wizard just has to die, or his dialogue is horrible. It's hard to kill your "darlings". Like my kitchen, I often let my stories sit for a long, long time before I give them a good deep-cleaning. When I do though, I notice the difference, and I can finally sit back and enjoy it. Because, unlike kitchens, once a story is completely polished, it doesn't need cleaning up again. I rather like that.

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