I’m now polishing version 8 of The After Days. Over the past three years, I’ve added and deleted characters. I’ve changed their names and altered their personalities. Feeling like a god, I’ve decided who will live and who will die, then after a few days, killed the living and resurrected the dead.
Sometimes the most inconsequential thoughts as I daydream in a dull meeting leads to major changes in the plot. Sometimes I endlessly debate about whether to use the word ‘leather’ or ‘calfskin’ in a description of a character’s boots. (I chose calfskin.)
I’ve had to confirm goosebumps is one word and re-remember the difference between lie and lay. I’ve purged hundreds of adverbs and inserted dozens of commas.
Editing, I’ve come to realize, is how you take 78,000 perfectly serviceable words and turn them into a compelling novel. It’s not the writing, it’s the editing that makes characters and setting feel real. Editing is what makes a reader stay up past her bedtime to finish a chapter. Like a freshly-mined gem becomes a beautiful diamond, editing creates a beautiful book.