Monday, June 13, 2011

The Big Picture

On my first morning in Winchester, the proprietor of my bed and breakfast recommended I walk up a small hill that overlooks the city. Even though in the back of my mind I was thinking, "I really don't have time--I have to see the cathedral and the house where Jane Austen died and-and-and," I took her advice. 

When I reached the top, I could see why she'd suggested it. The entire city of Winchester spread before me in a gorgeous panorama. I could see the back of the cathedral, the ruins of the old Bishop's Palace, Winchester College, and so much more. That first overview of the city helped me understand where exactly I was when I wandered the streets later.

On January 1, I picked up a hard copy of my draft and started editing--or at least I tried to. I didn't get past the first page before the sheer enormity of the task struck me. There was no way I could read through this story and edit it. I could barely remember what happened in the middle.

After some thought, I put the entire file on my Kindle. I spent the next three weeks reading it and taking notes, which I've then used to guide the editing process. Going through the story from start to finish allowed me to see the big picture; now, when I'm editing, I know where I am in the story and I don't get lost.

I blogged last Monday about paying attention to the details, and that's important. However, as writers we can become a little myopic--so obsessed with what is going on right now in our stories that we fail to see how that fits into the whole.

So if your editing is giving you grief, why don't you join me on this hill? I guarantee you, the view from here is worth it.