Letting the Internal Editor Bare its Teeth

At the beginning of January I started editing my science fiction – Tapped. (Which is a working title, I think. Every time I read it I twitch a little.) I’m implementing developmental edits that my editor Gabriel Fitzpatrick suggested and I must say I’m having a blast.

It’s interesting to me that the process I used to loathe (editing) is now one of my favorite parts of writing. It means I have something to work with, for one. And it means I get to let my internal editor bare her teeth.

During the rough draft, the creation part of the book, I have to kind of muzzle her. She wouldn’t let me get anything done if I didn’t, you know?

But right now, with Tapped, she has been set loose and is — yet again — ripping this book down to the genuine story underneath. She’s getting down to the story I meant to tell, and revealing the story I unconsciously told as well.

Perhaps that sentence needs some clarification.

The original purpose behind Tapped was to write a mother-son story. I was tired of mother-daughter/father-son stories. Being a single parent with a son it is important to me that this kind of relationship be exposed without the gross implications made in Oedipus.

(Though I will say that I think Greece was pretty messed up when it came to mother’s and sons. Somewhere I read that the whole story of Perseus taking down Medusa was an analogy for Perseus needing to cut off the ties from his mother before he could face Andromeda as a man. )

Anyway, I wanted to write a mother-son story. So I did.

But my internal editor exposed that I was not only writing a mother-son story, I was writing a brothers-in-arms story that needed just as much attention. And in fact, in choosing which of the main characters was actually the main character, I discovered that the book is primarily this brothers-in-arms story.

The mother-son story is a very, very close second. But in order to fully understand it, we have to understand the mother. And her life lives in the context of having been a soldier.

Thank you, Internal Editor. I wouldn’t have caught that without you.

One final note on the Internal Editor; her teeth are only as sharp as the books I read.

Currently I am reading Dawn on a Distant Shore by Sara Donati.  Her writing is absolutely beautiful. I feel like I’m breathing in another time and place while I’m reading it.

My internal editor is really sharpening her teeth on Donati’s work, bringing into focus word choices and characterization so that when I sit down to edit I can more clearly see and understand the craft of writing. It helps me pay attention to how I write.

In short; writers are only as good as the books they read.

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