Hi there,

There are plenty of people who would disagree when I refer to editing as a pollution or disease.

But it can be. It is very easy to get so caught up in editing your work that it will never be ‘healthy enough’ to go out into the world. And, for some people, it is possible to kill a story with more and more edits that chip away at the work until there’s nothing more than the desiccated carcass of what you started with.

Sometimes this works. Sometimes it doesn’t.

As you may be able to guess, I’m editing one of my own works at the moment and am trying to work out just where to stop. I’m tweaking and pruning and rewriting and generally trying to improve the work until it shines. I’m peeling off the layers of unnecessary flesh and scrubbing the bones to (I hope) perfection.

Unfortunately, I’ve got conflicting reports as to what I need to do to make it shine. One reader thought the beginning needed a complete rewrite (or to be dropped altogether). Another thought it was great on a second reading once they realised what I was doing. Yet another reader loved it and told me not to change a word.

And all three readers are people whose opinion I respect.

I used to joke that one day I would publish a book of all the chapter ones that I had started. The works I had polished so much that they would grab the reader and dazzle them. The works for which there were no chapter twos.

Over-editing can be a noxious atmosphere surrounding a story but all stories need to be edited. Especially, if like me, the author is a two-fingered typist pecking away at the keyboard. Good editing can save a work and make it fantastic.

At the moment my story has to take its medicine in the hope that it will have a better, brighter, more lasting future. So long as I don’t become so caught up in editing that it never has a future.