Editing: Respecting The Process / by Kenneth Buff

It’s taken time for me to accept that once I’ve finished writing a book that it’s not fully complete. I’ve of course always recognized editing as important, no one likes a book with typos, but there’s more to polishing a story than just catching miss-spelled words, and that’s what’s taking me a year to become fully comfortable with and even finally enjoy, that thing I’m talking about my friends is revisions. It’s what makes a story really become a story worth reading.  I’ve seen it in my own works and in my friends'. I think it’s just almost impossible to really nail the story you’re trying to tell in the first draft, and even if you do get that story out you were trying to tell, you can still add layers to it with a revision that would elevate your work that much more.

It’s taken me time to realize this. To see that it’s not an insult to my abilities or to my work to run through it again, chopping out the sentences that don’t add to the development of the story or characters, and adding ones that do. I’ve found that once I get going with the process it’s actually quite liberating, because I know that the story is improving. I can feel it in the tone of the book as it just starts to come together and make sense thematically. Every book is different for me, each one needs a different kind of 2nd draft love, but now I know that I need to give it that love, and I do so without any qualms, because I know my work deserves it, and that my readers will appreciate a quality read when it finally becomes available in the Kindle store a year after it’s inception.

Those are the reasons I’m currently sitting on two finished first-draft novels and I’m halfway through my fifth. The process of editing for me is now a long one, but it is a quality one. I’ve found a great group of writers who I trade pages with, we give comments on plot, characters, theme, the whole shebang. It’s because of this group that Sunborn became the novel that it is, a story of a tortured hero who wants to save lives in a world that no longer values life. My group is great, but it’s slow moving since most of us are teachers, so our time is limited. Page swapping happens every two weeks and it takes a lot of swapping before a book is done. But once it is, I revise the book based off of their suggestions and my own thoughts I’ve had after discussing my book with the group, and then after that I send it to my editor, and then from there I take his comments and suggestions and create the final draft.

It’s a process that now makes so much sense to me, and I wouldn’t want to do it any other way, but it’s a process I’ve had to come by from trial and error. I tried the route that some indie authors have suggested, writing fast and hiring an editor who will quickly look it over and get back to you within a week or two. Readers told me how they felt about that type of editing with Bad Dreams (they loved the story, but did not appreciate the poor edit). I had that book re-edited by my current editor, and the final product is now something I’m very proud of having created. But knowing how much better my work is by going through this process, it helps calm me when I stare at my KDP dashboard panicking that I don’t have the Dick and Henry sequel out yet, or the Sunborn sequel (which is written, but has not been revised or had it’s final edit yet), it calms me because I know these books will be so much better because I’m taking the time to really polish them, to make them the best stories they can be by putting in the time to sand off the rough edges and adding another coating of polyurethane. Only in this situation the rough edges are poor words, and the polyurethane are good ones. I swear I’m better at writing fiction than I am self-reflections.