Editing, Billy Zane-Style.

I guess I have to put on my big-girl-pants now. And you all know how much I hate wearing pants. 

Except these.

Having completed a very rough, very sketchy draft of my first novel/novella (56K words, holla!) now I must tapdance around something that should be construed as editing. 

This is awkward for me. 

I have never edited a long piece of writing before. Sure, I have edited and red-penned some flash fiction and short stories, but never anything with the whole exposition-rising action- CLIMAX-falling action-resolution-AND-EEEEEND-SCENE thang. An actual manuscript is all very new. And like a virgin on prom night, I’m just not sure which hole to poke. I’ve never had something this long and hard to finish (gentlemen). And the thing is, it’s not even done. I have a sketch. A bunch of jumbled words and parts that I need to work through, mend and then write some more. Which is fine with me. Right now I’m more about quantity over quality – the Jules Just Write part of the process. 

However, eventually I know I must kill my darlings.

I printed the entire 204 pages last Sunday afternoon, weeping as I killed trees and cursing as my printer ran out of toner. Then I paced. Literally paced for 10 minutes, my heart beating fast in my chest, cats staring at me in cocked-head-confusion.

It’s cowardice, but like Stephen King says, I cannot come at writing lightly. It’s a good thing yet it distresses me to my max. And I don’t get distressed. Usually. The mere act of tearing apart my words is daunting. Because whenever I go back and read, critique, there’s doubt. So on Sunday I read a portion of a page, wondered who in the hell wrote this shit, and then shelved it. I SCAAAAARED.

But this weekend I mean business. Serious biz-naz. Now the question is: how? Where do I start? Even though I’m sure I’m going about the editing process in the most backwards way as possible, I’m a wing-it type of girl. There’s a process to editing and I’m willing to figure it out as I go along. Incorporate what I know from writer pals and books.

Planned process shall go like so:

1. Use this week to read the manuscript. Fill in plot holes. Fix continuity. Spice up what needs spicing.

2. Drink red wine accordingly.

3. Get back to typing. Add more. Fill in the blanks. Be finished.

4. Print again.

5. Let whoever I choose to be my “constant reader” read and give feedback.

6. Let manuscript marinate.

7. Shun human contact and edit.

I would kill (in a non-threatening-manner) to have a complete and finished manuscript by the end of the year. Too much to ask you say? Perhaps. All I know is that to accomplish this I must step up my game, Billy Zane style.

How about any of you? Any validation, thoughts, editing tips, tricks of the trade or smarmy banter, please do share. Especially smarmy banter.

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  • Reply

    susan tepper

    November 4, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    Jules you can do this ! But not sure the jeans and thong are your best look… tee hee..

  • Reply


    November 4, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    Julia, you are amazing! Can’t wait for your finished product!

  • Reply


    November 5, 2011 at 12:35 am

    Thanks Mai and Susan for the encouragement! I guess I won’t be rockin’ the bikini jeans after all. 😉

  • Reply

    Crystal Posey

    November 5, 2011 at 2:49 am

    I haven’t ever edited a long piece either. I’d love to read your progress on this! And yes, you can do this! Go, go, go!

  • Reply


    November 5, 2011 at 8:08 am

    Julia, I’m impressed that you’ve worked so arduously on this first major piece. If it were me – my eyes would be crossing, I’d have a dazed look on my face and a pile of wine bottles next to my chair. You can always write to Jerry for advice, he may have some tips or written an article on editing or posted one by a guest writer. Very proud of you luv.

  • Reply


    November 5, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    Thanks Crystal! I think I shall document my insanity down the rabbit hole as I attempt to edit. I hope it’s as easy as my 7 steps make it out to be.

  • Reply


    November 5, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    I’m impressed with myself too, mama. Who knew I had perseverance? Thanks for all your support. I may give Jerry an email today and ask.

  • Reply


    November 23, 2011 at 4:29 am

    I am so STOKED for your piece! I know you have a lot of work ahead of you, but you can do it! This would be an AWESOME Xmas gift *hint hint*
    I think one of the things I miss most about living with you is reading ALL you wrote ALL the time. xoxo

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