The Eight Stages of Editing

Lightbulb, in Glass and Chocolate

And then everything turned to chocolate. Brilliant! (Photo credit: JanneM)

1. Challenge Accepted: All right, project, it’s been a while, but it’s time to get going again. You’ve got some…quirks, but they’re fixable. I can totally do this. I’ve got my red pens, my post-its, my notebook…let’s get on this. It’ll be easy.

2. Rough Patch: What the…where the hell did that character come from? And where is this happening? I thought it was a library, but now there’s tigers? And a rodeo clown? What the hell, past self? And the writing… “His hair was decadent”? What the fuck does that even mean?

3. Back in the Saddle: Okay, okay, some parts of this are rougher than a prison physical, but I can keep going. All I have to do is look past the admittedly crappy parts to the bones of the story. Those are good. There’s something worth saving here.

4. Pit of Despair: There’s nothing worth saving here. I can’t believe I vomited up this steaming pile of word fail. I should just stop writing. I am a total fucking failure, and the second anyone sees this, they’ll know. And I’ll be cast out of the tribe of Writer, to wander the outer lands alone and howl my misery until the end of days.

5. House of Cards: Okay, this is a problem, but I’m not giving in. How can I fix it…I know, I’ll just get rid of that character. Always hated the little bastard anyway, so let’s just murder him with a tire iron wrapped in seal fur. Okay. But…wait…no, now that subplot doesn’t work…and the love triangle has just become a lame-ass love…line. And the villain’s motives no longer make sense…and…Argh.

6.The Lightbulb: Holy shit, how did I not think of that before? That’s perfect. It fixes everything. She was an alien all along! This isn’t Plot Spackle, this is fucking Plot Synergy. I can make this amazing!

7. Point of No Return: I’ve come too far now. I have to finish it, if only so I can never look at it again. And when I’m done, I will bury this Frankenstein-ed piece of derivative crap under the porch so no one will ever see it, and pray it doesn’t seed and sprout more stories.

8. The Finish Line: I can’t believe I got through that. And now…now it’s pretty good. I can work with this. I can look at submitting this thing. Let’s see, what do I need….synopsis? One page? Well, I did just do all this work on it. I know the story backwards and forwards and damn near sideways by now. Shouldn’t be too hard to condense into one page, right? Ah, hell, that’ll be easy.*

*It won’t.