Daily Archives: May 26, 2011

Editing: laundry style

Those of you who know me get that laundry is my nemesis.  If somebody came out with affordable, disposable clothing, I’d be the first to buy.  If I could, I would hire Dobby and pay him handsomely in socks–clean ones, not those recycled from the dog–and my life would be great.

But no, every morning it’s the same thing.  “Mom, where’s my sweatshirt?”  “Mom, I need my baseball pants.”  “Mom, I have no clean socks.”  “Mo-om.”

In my defense, most of these much-needed items are in a pile on their bedroom floors.  Floors I do not pick up to make sure I have sweatshirts and socks and baseball pants.  Floors I can’t see until my darling children scoop up armfuls of clothes which they dump, unceremoniously, into the over-flowing laundry baskets.  And expect that now–right now–their socks (minus the dog-eaten ones) and sweatshirts and baseball pants will be clean.

We do that as writers, too.  We litter our floors with little mistakes–a secondary character who goes nowhere, a plot that stops, a flat MC, dumpy dialogue–and happily keep writing, ignoring the detritus until we need, Need, NEED a clean manuscript–like a baseball shirt two hours before the big game.

Everybody has their own laundry editing methods. 

  1. Some edit as they write, changing front chapters to match twists in the second half of a manuscript.  This would be the every day washer–yeah, DH, I’m lookin’ at you.   The only drawback to this method is that sometimes we get so wrapped up editing that we never finish the story.
  2. Others wait until their WIP is done before going back and methodically sorting out the jeans from the whites, each editing pass targeting a different aspect.   While this seems like a balanced approach, it can take vast amounts of time to edit one manuscript.
  3. And still more simply scoop up the entire mess off the floor and power wash their stories all at once.  This is a fine approach that works well for some writers–for instance, those who wrote from an outline–but may feel overwhelming to others. 

I’m a wait-until-the-last-second washer, but a sort-and-edit kind of writer. 

How about you?  What works about your approach?  What doesn’t?

Now where are those baseball pants…?