I was editing a story the other day. I knew I liked this story, otherwise why the hell would I bother editing it. While I was editing it though I found out that I loved the story.
It’s a leap of a distinction. It was a surprised (like all good love is supposed to be).
This is how I could tell I loved the story. Usually in the editing process I’ve read the story, re-read the story making corrections, and had at least one other person (my spouse, the saint) read and edit the story. So in the “editing process” I’m sitting down and making all the corrections. Since I’ve read the story I’m editing so many times I just scan the pages for the colored ink corrections, delete, add, or change accordingly, move to the next one. However with this story I made the corrections and just automatically started reading the story from that point. It happened several times before I realized I was doing it and why. That’s when I kicked the editing into “serious mode.”
That’s how I know I love my stories. You’ll have your own indicators, but it will happen. ‘But, Mr. Eden, sir. I love all my stories.’ Of course you do otherwise why waste the time on them. You’re their parent, they sprung from you, made you laugh, made you cry, made you frustrated; and like any parent you love every one of the little buggers. But…but…but there will be some you love more than the others.
This brings me to my point: You have to be twice as hard on the stories you love than the others. You have to be twice as hard for reasons I will now talk about. The first is you need to be twice as hard because loving the story like you do you’re probably pulling your punches when it comes to the editing already. So you have to be (what feels like to you) twice as hard, more than likely, to get to the normal editing level of your other stories. Loving Edits the Second Requirement: Remember when I said you need like two to three people reading your stuff, try to double that for this story, just to be sure. Loving Edits the Third Requirement: Listen to every suggestion and change twice. That’s right, even the ones that you realize were just opinions and not critiques. Again this is a just in case measure but it needs to be done, because with the love comes overprotectiveness. You might discount a critique as an opinion without realizing it. When all the critiques and edits are in, and you’ve made all of them. Then you read the story again, keeping an implement ready for more editing. Yes, you have to be critical of your shining baby again.
The reason for all the criticalness is very simple: you want the world to love the story as much as you do. For that to happen, you have to be ready to hack and saw away at your baby so the world can see it in all the glory you did when it had all the rough edges and baby chub.
Trust me there’s nothing more satisfying than putting in all this work on your story, worrying over it in your sleep, editing it and re-editing it, to the point you know there’s nothing more you can do with it; hearing someone say they didn’t like it, and knowing they didn’t like it because they have no taste and not because there’s anything wrong with your writing. Oh, you’ll still want to ram various parts of their facial region with your fist, but what will hold you back is knowing they’re just wrong.
So love all your stories, but keep an eye out for the ones that keep even your attention.
Write well and be well.