Writing Styles: Editing


I love to edit. For me personally I see editing like polishing your work to reveal its true artistic nature. I don’t find this unnatural at all. It enhances your story in removing clunky wording or sentence structure as the author thinks to themselves, 'what is the best way to deliver this line?'

"What is the best way to deliver this line?"

Think when you tell a story or recount an event to a friend, the first time you tell your story its clunky. You miss important parts, your story and how you tell it is not refined at all. The more people you tell the better you sequence your details, adding jokes, dramatic flare, specific details or even adding questions into your recount. ‘Why would they do that? Its unbelievable ... what I heard was,’ and the gossip begins.


That is editing.


When you tell a story through written word the same applies. People are people, stories are stories. Here is an example of editing using my work in progress, The Wolf in I:


The line reads:

‘My murderous achievements, my capability of disaster, to my own vile nature I was unaware.’


I could edit this line to be:

‘Holding the capability of disaster within my murderous achievements, to my own vile nature I was unaware.’


Or:

A nature within me, hidden, so vile in holding the capability of disaster, a joyous arousing achievement of slaughter.

However, usually my edits are nothing so dramatic as these lines, and I more so promote a feel, emotion of certain aspect of the story I am crafting:


‘As the bird slept in his cardboard home, Eli snuggled into the warmth of blankets. A navy-blue quilt wrapped over his naked body, both the bird and he drifting to sleep.’


If I want to promote the feeling of warmth id edit that to:

‘Snuggled into the warmth of blankets, the feel of his soft quilt draped over his naked skin, as both he and the injured bird drifted to warm sleep.’


Whereas if I wanted to promote the connection to the bird and Eli I'd write:

‘The feel of firm cardboard caressed his fingertips, Eli carrying his feather friend to his room. The scratching of claws on cardboard preluding sleep’ ... and so on.


Within this type of edit I then hide things, such as his quilt if that’s important later, or the relationship to this bird, the feeling of warmth and cold, etc. Anything can become important depending how it is written.


This is what I love about it. This is where, I believe, editing is a different type of creativity.


Not unlike your completed manuscript, whereby you send your work via Word or PDF to your publisher and an editor reads through every word of every line and offers changes. For me, the changes I have been advised are never structural or content related, more so smaller details of word choice and of course small grammatical errors.


For A Decent Life 1 I actually could not believe there were any grammatical errors, let along many, as I had read, edited, chopped and changed so many times. I honestly thought it was perfect. Naïve; yes, but a reflection of my standards also.


For me I love to edit. I really do. Every single day I write and anytime I lose that create flow I will edit my work, refining each word of each line in each paragraph. This is not work, it's passion. So too, each time I start writing I will edit my previous chapter, some times even editing three or four times before I move on.

"This is not work, it's passion."

When I was an apprentice chef, I worked with a Head Chef named Brad Williams. Very talented, hardworking, Brad taught me that when he writes a menu, he never has a dish, sauce, garnish, nothing at all can be on his menu as a ‘filler,’ which is far more common than people may think.


"My aim is always to deliver the best story with the greatest amount of detail in the least amount of words."

I have taken this philosophy and transferred that to martial arts, education and now writing. My aim is always to deliver the best story with the greatest amount of detail in the least amount of words. If you can express something poetically in ten words, why use twenty? It makes no sense to me.


Surprisingly, I have seen many authors comment via social media that they don’t edit, or edit very little, relying on their editors to suggest changes to their story. I don’t care what other authors do (in a positive way) as everyone works in their own styles. That’s what’s beautiful about life, how different solutions reach the same goal, whether writing, fighting, exercise ... whatever it is you are doing.


"What is the best way to craft this sentence."

For me, the biggest advantage is I genuinely love the challenge of, ‘what is the best way to craft this sentence.’ I find it interesting, engaging, challenging and sometimes flat out hard. But martial arts is hard. Education is hard. Running is hard. Parenting is hard. Being an author is hard. To me, hard work is not a deterrent.


Just today (24/10/2020) I heard the amazing martial art coach Trevor Wittman in an interview drop some serious knowledge bombs. When asked about their upcoming bout between Justin Gaethje and Khabib Nurmagomedov for the UFC lightweight title, Whitman said, “your plan never stays exactly how you put it. You have to have a target, you have to have a destination and you have to be able to adjust to your target.”


“Your plan never stays exactly how you put it. You have to have a target, you have to have a destination and you have to be able to adjust to your target.” - Trevor Wittman.

Although talking in reference to the UFC lightweight title bought, I heard Wittman’s words and it just clicked straight into my head. A massive yes from me. Adjust, hit those targets whatever they may be, however you have to get it done, obviously in line with your own moral judgements and beliefs.