David Farland On Editing Your Novel

Napoleon Crossing the Alps I get David Farland’s Daily Kick in the Pants newsletter and it’s always brimming with insightful and helpful tips on all facets of the writing life. You may recall a while back I blogged about David’s son, Ben Wolverton, who suffered severe brain trauma in a tragic long-boarding accident. It’s been over sixty days since the accident and Ben is recovering nicely from his injuries, but it’s a slow process. If you wish to know more, you can visit the Help Ben Wolverton site here. David Farland is a multi-award winning author of over fifty novels and is mentor to both well-known authors and newbie writers.

Today he discussed the ways you can edit your novel and as always, David expanded on it in ways only he can:

“The truth is that there is so much to do to write a good novel, that many novelists find that it is better to focus on it in several passes, in just the same way that a painter creates a masterpiece by laying down the paint in a dozen layers, letting each one dry before working on it again. Sure, you might find some weaknesses when you’re editing, but you should be more concerned with adding virtues.”

I can relate to that. In my own writing and editing process I’ve discovered that I write my stories in layers, and David’s analogy of equating it with the same process a painter follows, is very accurate. I usually first lay down a foundation by allowing the story to just spill out of me until I’m empty. Then the layering starts: I fix things that need fixing; add some color where things seem or sound bland; improve a sentence here and there; cut or move a paragraph to help the flow and pace, and check dialogue tags for consistency. Yes, it’s a long process but I’m comfortable with that. Mostly because I’m a slow writer. I know there are people who can write at the speed of light and churn out gorgeous stories. I do envy them and maybe one day I’ll be able to do that as well. But this is me now and this is how I write, and if I do my best and it turns out to be a readable story that people enjoy, then I’m happy. Mission accomplished.

I’ll tell you this though, it’s thrilling to see, through layering, how a story that at first feels crap, grow into something that causes goosebumps. I suppose it’s the same as a painter taking a few steps back to look at his finished painting and then smile when he realize he is finished. There’s nothing else to add.

Anyway, the point of today’s post is to refer you to David’s article on editing and here it is: David Farland’s Weekly Kick in the Pants—On Editing Your Novel.


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