The Editing Diaries– Author’s Pet, Smooth Sailing, and Influences

Welcome to my series, The Editing Diaries!

In a nutshell, I’m editing my story LASER and bringing you guys along for the ride. I want you to see how my process for editing novels works (and maybe I’ll figure out my process with you). So, buckle your seatbelts, we’re going on a trip!

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photo 1 (1)
Look at this cutie Pen-Dragon!

This week started a little bumpy. Having finally figured out a process I like and how to fix the character I was having trouble with, I dived right into the edits.

Friday night, I was making a list of what I needed to remember to fix in Chapter 2. And I hit a bump.

You see, I realized that I had a minor problem with a different character. And it seemed fairly easy to fix until I began to realize the implications of what all it would do to the story. I put the editing away and slept on it.

Saturday morning, I knew what to do. At least instinctively. I don’t know that I could explain to someone, at least not someone who hasn’t read LASER. I’m not really sure how to coherently explain it to myself.

Figuring out how to fix this character was significantly easier than trying to figure out how to fix Nick. And I have a growing fondness for this character. I have a question, though. Is this character trying to keep himself in my favor? Did he make it easy for me, just to spite Nick (his rival)? Either way, he is weaseling his way into my heart as an Author’s Pet. Which could be very dangerous for him. (I may have to write a short story from his POV at some point. And Alternate Universe where he gets a happy ending… Yeah, I’m going soft.)

The rest of this week has been… interesting. As I write this post, I’m up to Chapter 12 and I’ll probably have more done by the time this posts tomorrow.

Basically, Chapters 3-11 have not really needed anything done to them.

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True, I have a few small aspects that I am not worrying about in this pass, as well as the itty-bitty micro-edits. But still. I’ve only had to fix precious few things per chapter. Which was nice at first, but now I’m getting worried that I’m overlooking something. It just seems too easy.

Ever feel like that? Like writing or editing is too easy? Like this should be a whole lot more work but it’s not and just COPY, PASTE, FIX THAT LINE, DONE WITH THE CHAPTER?

Yeah.

Well, I figure I have two options here. I can freak out about it and look for the big thing I’m missing (even though there may be nothing) or I can not worry about it and fix anything that I find in this pass or the next.

I’m going with the second option. If I find out later that I’ve been missing something, I’ll probably just slam my head on the wall a few times, possibly panic a bit, eat some chocolate, and then start fixing it. And it’s not really a big deal. That said, if I come to you in tears and babbling about how terrible my book is, do remind me that I said it’s not a big deal and encourage me to take the rest of the day off.

And besides, I possibly have to rewrite the climax, so I really should be happy/thankful for the easy stuff now, you know?

Precious little music this week in editing (I think I’m going to start telling you guys what I’ve been listening to), but if you get the chance, check out Chains by Nick Jonas. It’s an interesting song and causes plot bunnies for me.

Oh! And you need to listen to this parody of Uptown Funk called Unread Book. Now. Just stop reading this post and listen to it. I’ll wait for you.

Back? Good. That was a good song, wasn’t it? I hope it goes to iTunes and Spotify.

So this happened:

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Actually, I’m not certain about the holy water thing anymore. But it’s not a big detail, so I’m not worried.

Point is, this is kind of proof of what happens when you are heavily influenced by other media as you are writing or editing. Not the crazy tweets; what happened prior to that tweet.

So, I have a character whose backstory I wanted to enhance. His name is Gavin. Though he works with fairy stuff everyday, his family is very superstitious. So, I needed to bring this aspect out a bit more and was writing up this paragraph:

 Gavin’s family overcompensated for the rest of the town not believing in fairies, going to the other extreme. Fairies, all fairies, were inherently evil. The MacBays put salt and iron all around their door and window frames. The décor for the entire house—and a good deal of the yard—was crosses. A gun with silver bullets and a wooden stake sat atop the mantle, ready to be used in a moment’s notice. Gavin, of course, knew that none of these precautions were strictly foolproof or necessary but it was rather difficult to explain that to parents and an older sister who all left the house carrying holy water and insisted he do the same.

Notice a few things about said paragraph? Some of their precautions are used to deal with vampires (wooden stakes, crosses, holy water). Now, of course, this may be later edited and since fairies are considered to be demonic (as are  vampires) in some folklore, this is fine. But where did these specific aspects come from in a moment’s notice as I wrote them?

Guess who has been watching a fair amount of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, lately.

*raises hand*

That being said, be careful of your influences. Excessive media will go into your mind and come out through your writing. Sometimes, it doesn’t even have to be excessive.

Now, that also being said, I should add that writers are master thieves. There is nothing new under the sun. We steal from real life, other media, even (GASP!) other stories. Is this wrong? Unless it’s exactly the same and you are aware of it and you use it in the exact same way… no. Good writing is a mix of stolen goods and originality.

Don’t believe me? Okay then, what’s fanfiction? And why is it okay for me to use the formula for a romance from Pride and Prejudice (which bears striking resemblance to Beauty and the Beast)? Why is it okay for me to write a kick-butt heroine when there are so many of them in YA today?

Because I put my own twists into them. Nothing is exactly the same. And I am not stealing everything down to the name and descriptions of the MC’s dog.

Hmm… nice tangent, Robyn. But it’s time to wrap it up.

So, how are your writing projects coming? Ever had something that seemed too easy? And do you have more thoughts about why it’s okay to “steal” in writing?

DFTBA!
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18 thoughts on “The Editing Diaries– Author’s Pet, Smooth Sailing, and Influences

  1. Ughh you’re so productive editing-wise. It makes me feel bad about neglecting my baby Pariah this month. xD But great job! I totally get this.

  2. I totally agree that writers are just thieves. XD HAHA. But yes, it has to be done right. I’ve been infuriated by books that blatantly steal other story’s plots. (I have, no joke, read a Divergent rip-off that made me gag it was so so obvious. How can that even be legal?!) But when it’s influences, then it’s golden. ^-^

    Omg, I had the SAME THING when I was editing my book earlier this year. It was going…too well. 0_0 I was SURE I was doing something wrong because I was leaving whole chapters in with only small fix-ups, whereas I usually retype everything. Buuuut, I hope your edits continue to be kind to you. x)

  3. FINALLY someone just admits that we writers are a collection of thieves. Some people are just better at it than others…I started out my fantasy writing career with the worst Harry Potter ripoff anyone has ever seen. But it’s kind of like how some fairy tales follow the same formula. If your characters and world are unique, no one really cares that you’re just reusing the ‘group of teens who save the world’ storyline. You just need to avoid certain similarities… I have read some truly terrible Harry Potter and/or Percy Jackson ripoffs that really just took everything but the names. I don’t get why people even let this stuff be published. Do copyright laws have no importance?

    • YES! WE ARE ALL THIEVES!
      But yes. A lot of us start off with rip-offs. Which honestly is a good starting point, but should be changed before we get to the publishing stage. I don’t think rip-offs should be published, but perhaps it’s possible that the publisher or the author doesn’t realize it’s a rip-off or (possibly more likely) think that because people love (insert book title) they’ll love that book because it’s pretty much the same. Or maybe it’s just hard to keep track of books and plotlines. I don’t know.

      • I think we need the ripoffs when we start writing, because we learn from those mistakes, and we’re more careful to avoid copying in our later work. These days, if my plot starts sounding like Harry Potter or another book, I just scrap the entire storyline or drastically change all of it. But maybe publishers just look at a book and say, oh look, it has a magical school, and remember what happened with the last magic school!

  4. Ooh, yes! I’m not sure I’ve ever had editing be too easy (because this is like my first serious editing project and it’s kind of a mostly overhaul thing as I think I’ve said before? excuse my redundancy, sorry), but I can totally understand how it’d be a little worrying. That said, you’re probably doing fine, and if not, you can fix it later!

    And yup, we have already written every story out there—all that’s left is new twists and turns on it. I don’t know that I have anything to say on that that hasn’t already been said.

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