Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Internal Editor

Writers know they need to develop a working relationship with their internal editor. If they don't, they tend to either be stuck in a writer's block the size of Montana or they write garbage unworthy of the paper it is printed on.

Internal editing is an instinct which is there but needs to be trained. Everything we know about writing, all those classes and books, get stored in the part of our brain where the editor resides, at least it should. When we write, there should be a little guy sitting on our shoulder offering tips and opinions but it shouldn't be crippling.

I work pretty well with my internal editor. Its timing is a little off. This morning while I was putting laundry in the dryer it pointed out my story had a weak portion. People who read vampire novels don't want to hear about the paneling in the house. When I got the wash going, I went back to my WIP and read the portion in question. Yep, it slowed the story down. While it served a purpose, giving some backstory and set up, the same thing could be accomplished further into the story. What was important was dragging my readers into an action-packed tale of love and passion, not a treatise on interior design. So mouse in hand, I deleted and sure enough, the story picked back up again.

How do you get your internal editor to be a helper rather than a hindrance? You are a writer because you enjoy it. You write because something inside compels you to express yourself through words. You write because there is a story inside that needs to be given life. You have control. The internal editor works for you. Trust what it says, but it isn't always right. Too often it is just spitting out dictates from rules others have said. Make it play by your rules.

On the flip side, when the internal editor is telling you something, don't ignore it. The editor holds the knowledge which could improve your craft. You may not like what it has to say, but you need to trust it as well. Even if you don't agree with what the internal editor says, it is worth looking for another option. Between the writer and the internal editor, there is a middle ground.

I'm cleaning my fridge right now and it tends to make me thoughtful. Some of the things I have found in there would frighten the most vicious of beasts. I was going to blog about my 3 year old but the number of expletives was excessive even for me.