Jun. 27th, 2017

pocketseizure: (Gator Strut)
After the hot mess of my recent Peach/Bowser smutfic, I've started to realize how truly dysfunctional my editing process is.

I'm constantly editing as I write a story. Not only will I begin each writing session by editing the previous day's writing, but I'll also write the same damn sentence multiple times. I think this helps with plot cohesion, and it means that I'm always saying exactly what I want without a lot of filler. Unfortunately, it also means that sentences and paragraphs tend to exist in multiple states at the same time, which results in technical errors like a lack of subject-verb agreement and stylistic awkwardness such as repeated words. In other words, the stitches holding together the seams are visible.

Once I finish with a unit of writing, I generally let it sit for a day or two before reading it over at least two or three times. I catch a lot of inconsistencies this way, but I also tend to get bored and impatient to move on to the next thing. I'll go ahead and post whatever it is on AO3, and then I'll eat lunch or take a walk or something.

After an hour or so has passed, I'll take my car out of my building's garage, park it on the street somewhere, and then sit there with my laptop and my iPad. I will read the story out loud from the AO3 page on my iPad screen while pausing to make any necessary corrections.

I will then copy all the text from AO3, paste it into the text field of a Tumblr post, and go through the whole thing again. Oddly enough, this is where I always end up finding the most errors. If I had to guess, I think the drastically different dimensions (specifically, the narrowness of the column in the Tumblr text editor) shake everything up just enough for me to be able to see things that I had previously glossed over.

This process takes a long time, and it also means that the initial post on AO3 is going to be messy for two or three hours. And even after I clean everything up, I generally return a week or two later and find even more things that need fixing.

The best thing for me to do would be to have a beta reader who could look over my work in stages, the first of which would be catching stylistic errors, and the second would be asking difficult questions about things like word choice and character motivation. Finding a good beta reader is more difficult than perhaps it should be, however, especially for someone like me, who needs a relatively long time to be able to trust and open up to someone. Over the past two years I've actually tried to ask two separate people I know in real life to be my beta readers, but neither worked out for various reasons. Writing is a skill, and so is editing; just because you're good at creating your own work doesn't mean you'll be able to give productive feedback to someone else.

In the end, I think it's worth remembering that I only started getting serious about my writing in November 2014, and it's really not fair to expect that my work will be perfect after only two and a half years' worth of practice. I've made a lot of progress with my writing, and hopefully my editing will continue to improve as well.

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