The Bitter-Sweet Process of Editing – the Path to Becoming a Genius!

The Cover Image for Book 3: The Sword Bearer's Awakening

The Cover Image for Book 3: The Sword Bearer’s Awakening

I’m around twenty pages away from finishing up with Book 3: The Sword Bearers Awakening, and it feels like I’m preparing myself to say farewell to a best friend.

It was worse with my first book, The Sword Bearers, because I’d poured my new-found creativity into this ‘beautiful monster’ – my heart, soul, sweat and many tears – and then I had to let go of it, set it free, and allow the world to take possession of it.

And, boy, did it hurt.

Since the day I began this wonderful journey of creating with words instead of dance – dance had been my entire life since the age of five – it amazed me how emotionally involved and invested I became with this wonderful story. This epic tale has been with me since as far back as I can remember, and first putting it down on paper then giving it away to the world and allowing them to see it, handle it, talk about it, judge it, and scrutinise it was more painful and terrifying than I could ever have believed. I joked with friends and family that writing and then publishing my debut novel was like giving birth because it was one of the most trying and challenging things I’d ever done in my life. And I don’t do anything small! I may only be five foot two inches tall but Monique has never done anything small in her entire life!

Sometimes my characters take possession of me!!

Sometimes my characters take possession of me!!

As Book 2: The Sword Bearer’s Journey took shape and the story expanded and evolved, and my writing technique and storytelling abilities got better and better, it became a little easier to create. But not for one second did the emotional attachment dissipate. No way! In fact, it became even more intense. The characters got a hold of me in ways I never expected. I thought about them constantly and even dreamed about them! I role-played and spoke to myself – out loud! – because they had, quite literally, taken possession of me, and I didn’t mind in the least!

I know those of you reading this, who have also created their beautiful, unique stories and characters, know exactly what I’m talking about. Ernest Hemingway said that when we sit down at our typewriters we bleed. I understand that completely.


I agree with a few fellow bloggers, who have recently mentioned in their posts that when we write we leave parts of our souls on the page, that our characters are extensions of ourselves to a small or large degree. That’s why it’s so hard to kill off a character or turn a good character bad (I kinda feel like I’m betraying them on that one), or create a tragic event for a kind, soft-hearted character, because I experience each one of those events and situations as if they were happening to me. When there’s death I weep; when there’s anger or rage I feel aggressive; when there’s betrayal I feel pain and anger; and when there’s fear or frustration or danger my body is so tense I have to take a break and ask my hubby to massage the knots out of my shoulders!

Then, after I’ve ‘bled’ onto the page, I am required to do something cruel and downright mean: I have to edit. Cut, change, rearrange, remove or replace – the worst of it being cutting out entire scenes, sometimes pages long, because they don’t flow or are unnecessary to the story or redundant. My characters ‘stare’ accusingly at me as though I am wiping out parts of their very existence, which is actually true, and I don’t blame them. I HATE doing it! But when one is writing an epic fantasy the first draft is usually too long, anyway, and desperately needs editing. I have no problems creating. I can write one-thousand-page books with relative ease. I never want for ideas. But I always have to remind myself to be frugal, and since Book One I’ve learned how to get to the point faster and write more succinctly from the beginning.

Book Three was actually the first one I wrote in the tetralogy. It is the most emotionally charged, intense, powerful book out of the four so far, and is the crux of the story and the most important for the main character, KC/Khyri, the Sword Bearer. Here’s a snippet from Book 3 for your enjoyment:

. . . Cilicia easily knocked Khyri’s hands away and gently took her face in her hands and bent lower so she could hear. Trying as best she could to separate her mind from the vicious relentless blows as the mass penetrated her back again and again, she looked deeply into Khyri’s eyes and said in a calm voice that belied the agony she was experiencing: “Listen to me, Bearer.” A stricken KC listened. “You are the arm of Kurrn. You are the beautiful gift He gave this Universe twenty-three years ago to restore balance and destroy evil for this time in history. You are the hope of N’varda, your people, and your son. Kurrn’s mark is upon you not Drakoor’s. Compared to you the demon is very weak, and he is very afraid of what you can do. I feel it now with him inside me.” Cilicia sobbed, and then cried out as the attacks on her body increased, but she gritted her teeth and honed all her remaining will and concentration on Khyri through eyes blurred with tears. “Drakoor is nothing to you. There is no comparison. He was created by Kurrn but no longer has His favour or His power, whereas you have the fullness of Kurrn within you. Do you not see it, Khyri? Do you not understand the power you possess?” . . .

Editing for me, although sometimes painful and frustrating, is an excellent way to learn my craft and perfect it. It teaches me to recognise what’s important and to make decisions for the good of the story. Just like the special effects geniuses in movies it is my job to make the reader unaware of what it took to create the magic. I once watched an interview where a special effects director on Lord of the Rings said that if the audience does not notice what they’ve done in the film then they’ve done their job! Wow, I thought then, that means that all their hard work is basically ignored. But for a movie lover like me, who loves watching the interviews and “How the movie was made” snippets on the dvd, I will always admire and acknowledge the geniuses who make my movie experience so magical. Even in the dance world the ordinary person on the street has no idea what it takes to produce and present a full-length ballet. All they see is the end result and none of the huge effort that created the magic and beauty.

Planet Hell by Zakeros

I am like those special effects geniuses: my goal is to create so artfully, so perfectly, that the reader has not clue how tough it was for me to give them that powerful, magical experience.

Editing is bitter-sweet. As writers we keep nothing back when we expose our souls to the page, and that’s what our readers deserve. What they don’t see is the pain; all they see is the glorious results of our efforts. And I for one hope they never find out how hard it was to produce those results. I for one hope they see me as a genius one day, too.

Please share your editing experiences and agonies! I loving hearing from you!

Planet Hell courtesy of zakeros

About SwordBearer

I am a fantasy and science fiction author. I have published three epic fantasy novels in a tetralogy with Xlibris Publishing, and a sci-fi short story, The Door. All are available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other major online retailers. The Door is also available on Smashwords. I love reading everything from King to Koontz, Cussler to Brooks and Feist, to name but a few. Before writing became my life I was a professional ballet, jazz/contemporary dancer in South Africa. Writing and storytelling have always been passions since childhood, and I want to share them with the world!!

Posted on March 17, 2013, in Believe in Your Writing Abilities, Passion versus Knowledge, You are a Creator! Believe it! and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

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