Fiction Writing Masterclass
Lesson 7: How to Edit Your Fiction Writing
This week we’ll cover structural and line editing, to ensure your short story is perfectly polished for publication.
This is the seventh lesson in an 8-part series on writing fiction. It has been designed to take you through the process of writing a short story from start to finish. For more information, including the content covered in each lesson, check out my introductory post here.
“There is no such thing as good writing, only good rewriting.” — Robert Graves
Of all the stages in the short story creation process, editing is the most important. This is where you tidy, cut, change, refine, tighten, and polish what is likely to be messy writing. Up until this point, you’ve been using your creative brain, but now it’s time to switch to your analytical brain and adopt the role of editor.
First and foremost, put your writing aside for as long as possible. This is with the aim that you’ll forget your story sufficiently enough that when you come back to it, you are reading it with fresh eyes as if you are a reader and not the author. This has two benefits:
- Firstly, you will not have emotional ties to it and won’t be worried about ruthlessly cutting anything that doesn’t work.
- Secondly, you will be better able to identify what does and doesn’t work because you will be reading it objectively.
Only you can decide how long you need away from your story to be able to create this distance. It may be just a day or it could be weeks. However, I have some tips to speed up this ‘distancing’ process.
During my English literature and creative writing degree, I didn’t have the luxury of just letting my stories sit to one side because I had to meet tight assignment deadlines. However, I found that due to my busy schedule wherein any one week I was reading 3 to 4 novels, working on a literary criticism essay, and also prepping for my next literature exam —it helped me to forget my fictional stories quickly. Therefore, if you want to get your story out of your head, I’d recommend filling your head…