The deepest cuts…

At last I’m on the home straight. Almost a year after I first started writing it, I finally have a complete first draft of The Body in the Library! (It’s hardly an original title I know, but it’s for a competition.)

To celebrate, I’m going to share with you all just how painful I find editing…I HATE it!

Don’t get me wrong. I accept that editing is an important part of the writing process. The longer a piece is (and the longer it has taken you to write) the less likely it is that the beginning and the ending are going to mesh together. Particularly if, like me, you don’t always write scenes in the right order…

In the race to get all your ideas down on the page, errors creep in. Sometimes it’s just a typo, other times a serious error that completely changes what you are trying to say. An example – I decided part-way through the story that the name I’d chosen for one character was actually better suited to another. How much sense will the story make if I haven’t changed the names every time they occur?

Another issue to be wary of (especially in a mystery) is making sure all the relevant points have made it onto the page… The finished story won’t flow too well if an important clue in a character’s backstory doesn’t get mentioned at some point. Of course it will also interrupt the flow if the relevant point is surrounded by flashing neon lights, not to mention spoiling the surprise ending if you make a clue too obvious.

Once I’ve checked for obvious errors, the hardest part is culling irrelevant parts. That carefully crafted description that took me hours to get exactly right…gone. It detracted from the narrative, so it goes in my scrap file, where it might find a home in a future piece. (Hopefully).

Finally there is the proof-reading. I must admit grammar is not my friend. Not because I’m particularly bad at it, but because I agonise over little ‘nit-picky’ type things. Should I use single or double quotation marks? Should I break that speech up into two paragraphs? If so, at what point? Final proof-reading is the only time I really regret that I can’t afford to do a writing course…I really must get around to buying a style guide!!!

Anyway…as of now, I have just under 48 hours before I have to place two copies of The Body in the Library in an A4 envelope, with an entry form and a cheque. After so much time and effort, it’s going to be hard to let this one go…

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