On Wednesday of this week, it was time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.
What am I feeling insecure about? Being stuck in the “aditing” phase with my book.
I tend to get asked this question a lot these days, ‘How’s the new book going?’ My standard answer has been to say that I’m still editing. However, as I was confessing to a friend, at Toastmasters this week, I’ve been going through my manuscript adding more words than I’ve taken out. She coined the perfect word for it, which I immediately purloined, “ad-iting.”
I thought, wow, this is the perfect word for a stage in the writing process which is necessary and also, annoying. The “aditing.”
The other day, I celebrated having edited the entire manuscript the whole way through five times. Here I am, studiously taking words out of my tome of 60,000 words. Yet, by a process of diligent aditing, I’ve also managed to get the word count on ‘The Sasori Empire’ up to 63,760 words!
How? Answer: because I’m temporarily stuck in the stage of “aditing,” which is strictly speaking the opposite of editing. It is nevertheless, a valid part of the creative process of creating fiction. For any writer, especially those who are just starting out, this can be the most frustrating stage of our job. This is what happens naturally, when each time you go through your prose, you find more and more gaps which need filling, more questions which need answering, or where there needs to be more description, more context, and more depth in general.
These are the tough yet vital moments in the development process of a good story. This is when you have to examine what’s there and what needs to be there to add texture and context. It’s vital to the enrichment and vibrancy of our fiction.
A few years ago, I entered a short story into a contest held over on LinkedIn. On the forum boards, members of the group wrote in with their feedback on the entries. A lovely old Indian writer, who I was friends with, gave me some very valuable insight on my piece, which I’ve never forgotten. He said, “Nice story, but not enough furniture.”
His wise words made me wake up. I had an epiphany. I realized that in my slavish abeyance to the modern rules of writing fiction, I’d stripped my writing nearly bare. This is the danger today. There are rules for everything! The danger is that we polish a story to the stage where it’s too sanitised. We might get an “A” from the “Was Police,” but no one else wants to read it because the story is also sans voice, sans colour, and sans energy. It’s boring!
When I began work on this series, The Chronicles of Aden Weaver, a decade ago, I set out as we all do, into the fun, easy “Genesis project” stage of writing a book, when you’re gushing the rough copy into words.
Once I had the substance of the overall trilogy, I started editing Book One, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta.’ However, I cut out all the flavour. In my nodding to every literary more, I’d whittled my story down to the bare bones. I ended up having to do some serious aditing, before it ended up feeling like a fully realised story.
Therefore, with the sequel, I didn’t want to leave the bones bare. This is when the aptly named, “aditing” came into play; the vital time spent adding furniture to the rooms of the house. Then, adding the decorations.
The award-winning author and teacher, Kate de Goldi said, ‘I think current stories are lacking in complex structure, nuance. Kids need more than a limited diction, and a palette of Smarties.’
It’s in the visceral detail that brings the scenes alive and makes the characters more real.
I commenced working on Book Two in September.
Within the process of editing, I have had to re-learn how to accommodate prolonged periods of aditing. I’m here to report, it can be done. One must keep a stoic face. And, not worry or think of it as a waste of energy. Allow the words to flow to fill the gaps. You can always take half those words out again later. The important thing is to let them flow. This is that point of manuscript development about which Oscar Wilde famously said, ‘This morning I took out a comma, and this afternoon I put it back again.’
This admittedly requires a lot of patience. But then, what part of writing does not?
Yvette K. Carol
Books are never finished, they are merely abandoned. ~ Oscar Wilde
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