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Just One More Take . . .When Is Enough Editing Enough?

March 21, 2022

“I wish I’d never written the stupid song. It must be a terrible song. If it weren’t a terrible song we don’t have to do it 50 stinking times.”
– Billy Joel on multiple takes

I’m a writer not a song writer. Authors don’t have to do multiple takes. Instead we edit. . .over and over. . .and over. . .and again. . .and one more time.

If you are a writer you’d better love the story you wrote, because you are going to read it A LOT.

I just finished the latest round of edits for my next short story. The story is called “You Can Call Me Dan.” It will be part of an anthology coming out in the Fall. I won’t tell you WHICH round of edits I’ve completed, because honestly, I’ve lost track.

The deadline for submitting the rough draft was March 1. The editor then did a “structural” edit. This is where he goes through and tells you what needs to change in your story.

Oh, you thought it was YOUR story and YOU get to decide? Yeah, well, if you never want to be published, that’s a great attitude. For those of us trying to get our stories in print, you are going to have to work with an editor.

My editor is named James. And honestly, it’s a really good editor. His feedback on my story was “Your main character is too creepy. Make him less creepy.” So, the first round of edits was to change the main character, rewrite the scenes where my MC did creepy things, and then rework the conflicts.

Okay, easy enough. And as soon as I was done with the structure edits, I then reread my story and had to do another round of edits to fix inconsistencies my structural edits introduced.

Oh, and I had sent my manuscript out for a beta read. So, I edited it again and made the changes from the beta readers.

And then I remembered another edit that I wanted to do. But, I’d already sent a copy to the editor. More edits and a “Hey, use this one instead of the one I sent you two hours ago.”

I have probably read my story ten times by now. And we haven’t even gotten to the line edits. That will come the coming months.

The Billy Joel quote describes how his producer wanted, “Just one more take.” Over and over.

Editing is like that. Eventually, the story becomes just a series of words separated by periods, question marks and does anyone REALLY understand how to use commas?

A story is never done. As a writer, I could write on a single story for months. The trick is fix the problems that every story has without introducing more. When the problems are all fixed, the story is done.

Fortunately, my editor has already accepted Dan for publication. My editing process will be without the stress of “how do I make it good enough to appeal to an editor?”

Just one more take.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany II, an anthology including his latest short story, “The Mercy System” here

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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2022 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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