The Power of Editing and Other Eyes / by Kenneth Buff

So I started my 2nd draft of Dick and Henry tonight. I take my laptop with me to my favorite coffee shop, drink my tea, chew on my scone, and I read what my writing buddies have said about my chapters. I already know some of what they've said. I know the major things I should work on, the big character and plot issues that need addressed to satisfy the reader. But I want to know the nitty gritty stuff of the scenes I'm about to work on, so I read their comments. I see that there's a lot of work to be done here, but rather than that looking daunting, it looks fun to me. I see it as an opportunity to not only improve the work, but to come up with something fun to say, to find the meaning of the scene and the motivations of the characters. Because there's nothing particularly wrong with the scene, I've set it up well, it's just the finer points that are off. The characters aren't talking right, not behaving the way their motives should dictate. So I fix those things, and I add some depth. I breathe life into the scene, and I feel like the characters are becoming real. Are becoming more than just things I've imagined, but things people can relate to, things that don't seem like things at all. Which is how I know I'm doing my job right.

This may be the most fun part of writing. It's the part most writers hate, but I'm finding that with each subsequent book I write that I enjoy it more and more. I also think it helps that the writers in my writing group all have such a great relationship with each other. We're not afraid to speak the truth. Which I can tell you, if I hadn't been told what was lacking in my scenes from someone other than me, it would have taken me too long to discover it. It's impossible to overstate the importance of outside eyes on your first drafts of your books. It's a pivotal part of the process for me. It's the weed killer for my garden. It keeps the dung beetles off my trees. Keeps the Dutch Elm at bay. But yes, here I am again feeling like I'm improving my work and my art more than I have ever before, and I'm positive that I'm right, because it all just feels right. But, I'll let you guys decide. Hoping to have Dick and Henry out by November, but if I keep up this pace, it could be out in September. Until then, don't forget to check out my latest books, Sunborn and Phidelphius.