Why Should I Attend the Asheville Christian Writers’ Conference? Make the Most of Your 15-Minute Conference Appointments – Cindy Sproles 7 Things to Do NOW to be Ready When Writing Inspiration Strikes – Edie Melson You Need a Platform – Living A Story- Assignment 3 Redundancy: An Excessive, Oppressive, Pervasive Disease The One Sheet The Bio – The Fragrance of Who You Are Over-Edit? Imagery–When This is Like That Basic Writing and Editing Tips Blog or Website—Which One Does a Writer Really Need? – Edie Melson A Blog about Blogging My Blogging Affair – Terri Webster My GPS Writing Life: “Recalculating” – Elva Cobb Martin Is Your Blog Healthy? Conferences – Finding Direction Navigating Your Writing Success Why Your Writer’s Bio is Valuable Real Estate Rejection – Before You Blow Your Stack Evaluate Your Progress on the Writing Path – Edie Melson So You Were Asked to be a Beta Reader Writing the Perfect Bio Writers Call Out – Chicken Soup for the Soul 2014 Cleaning Guide for Writers (Critiques) Pray Uniquely Write Right – A Christian Writing Career Writers ADVANCE! Boot Camp 2015 Writers Call Out – Chicken Soup for the Soul The Conference is Over – Awe, Man! Chicken Soup for the Soul: Christmas in Canada 15 Minute Appointments – Cindy Sproles Break Out of Your Writer’s Cell – Denise Loock Writers Call Out Assignment 3 – Conflict in Every Scene? Writers Call Out – Chicken Soup for the Soul Assignment 2 – Gaining Word Count Assignment 1 – Picture Perfect Bio Writing as a Ministry Titles – Terrible or Terrific? How 5 Simple Tips Can Change Everything Rejection – Before You Blow Your Stack 10 Reasons NOT to Become a Novelist Commas – Bethany Kaczmarek Compounds Are Not that Complex – Bethany Kaczmarek Divorce My Words…Never! Get Your Grammar Fix (ed) – What Kind of Mood Are You In, Verb? Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer’s & Other Forms of Dementia Find Your Blog’s Subscriber List and Schedule Email Notifications with Feedburner Writers Call Out – Chicken Soup for the Soul: Reboot Your Life And Objective Look at Subjectivity My Take on…Creating Villians – Part 2 Mike Dellosso My Take On . . . Villains, Part 1 – Mike Dellosso Chicken Soup for the Soul – Writers Call Out Touching the Spirit of Our Readers Writers Call Out – Chicken Soup for the Soul: Home Sweet Home First in Fiction – Characters – Aaron Gansky Critiques – No Pain, No Gain Making Time to Rest Writers Call Out The End – Saying Goodbye to a Story Writing’s Circle of Life Here a Tweak, There a Tweak, Everywhere a Tweak, Tweak What’s So Wrong with Waiting? Writers Call Out – Chicken Soup Books Emotion – Moving the Reader from Common to Uncommon Writers Call Out – Chicken Soup for the Soul Writing the Best You Can Bringing Security Blankets to Conferences—Tips for the Linus-Writers “Who Wants to Write a Story With Me?” CONTEST! – Mike Dellosso How to Get Amazon Reviews – Eddie Jones Freedom as a Holy Ghost Writer – Edie Melson My Worth Is NOT Determined by My Numbers – Edie Melson An Author’s Responsibilty – Cindy Sproles Call Out for Writers Connections: Social Media and Networking Techniques for Writers – Author Edie Melson Carolina Christian Writers Conference Chicken Soup Writing Opportunity The Tweet Life, Why Bother with Twitter? Angels, Miracles, and Heavenly Encounters – Writing Op How Writing an Article is Like Feeding a Baby – Edie Melson After the Conference…then what? Assignment 5 – Characteristics of a Lazy Writer Assignment 4 – TickyToes@urggggmail.com Assignment 3 – Pack a Punch When You Write Top Ten Authors Southern Writers Awards Boot Camp Free Subscriptions Assignment 2 – Vonda Skelton How to Make an Appointment Why I Should Make an Appointment Keep Your Image Current Top Five Blogspots Be an Encourager – Cindy Sproles Learning the Lingo – Part 4 – Appointment Etiquette with Agents/Editors Learning the Lingo – Part 3 – Publishing Terms Learn the Lingo – Critique Groups – Part 2 Learning the Lingo – Steps to Understand the Art of Writing and Publishing – Part 1 Preparing to Attend a Writers Conference Writing the Perfect Bio Don’t Forget! Writing Opportunity – Zookeepers Ministry Is SEO Dead? – Edie Melson What’s Holding You Back?
Photo Credit: www.ediemelson.com
Photo Credit: www.ediemelson.com

By Steven James

Is it possible to over-edit? Or, is there a point where the story is unsalvageable?

Editing is like sharpening a knife. You hone the story like you would a blade, but if you overdo it you’re no longer sharpening the blade but actually weakening it.
When you’re editing there’s eventually a matter of diminishing returns regarding the time you put into a draft and the quality of the final story. At a certain point, the time that it would take you to read the entire book isn’t worth the handful of changes that you might be making.

For me, as an artist (read—annoying, neurotic, perfectionist) that’s a hard line to draw, and admittedly, I tend to keep going over my work again and again until I’m convinced that it’s the very best I have to offer.

In my view most people don’t need to worry at all about over-editing. They don’t spend nearly enough time on the editing in the first place.

There’s no point at which a story is unsalvageable, but most people aren’t willing to take the time to make the major, or in some cases seismic, changes that would be necessary to tell that story well. It might take less time to start over or write a different story entirely.

Telling a great story always requires five things: the inevitable movement of the story from the origination to the resolution (that is, every event is caused by the one that precedes it), believability, escalation, motivation, and surprise. Apart from grammatical errors and copyediting, these areas are the biggest problems most stories face.

So, it’s vital that as you work on your story, you continue to ask:
(1) Inevitability: Are there gaps in narrative logic? Do things happen for no reason—other than that I think they need to in order to make my outline work?
(2) Believability: Is everything that happens believable even if it’s impossible? Does the character act in a way that’s consistent with his or her core attitudes, desires, inner turmoil and outer circumstances?
(3) Escalation: Are the stakes being raised? Is the danger becoming more imminent or more unstoppable?
(4) Motivation: What drives this character to act? In other words, what does the character want more than anything else? How far is he or she willing to go to get it? Is every action that the character takes sufficiently motivated by the story events?
(5) Surprise: Do the scenes, the acts, and the story as a whole end in a way that people won’t see coming, but that also follow inevitably from what precedes it?

If you continually ask yourself these questions as you’re working on your story, you’ll find less need to have to start over, or get to the point at which it’s not worth your time to rework the story to salvage it.

Your assignment this week – (should you choose to accept it) is as follows:

Read the first chapter of your work in progress. Search first for the obvious grammatical errors.  Look for chatty spots and tighten them. Then apply the above 5 steps to your work. This is hard. You’re required to be  critical of the work you do. But it’s worth the effort.

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