The other day on my Facebook page I wrote a post about how I was doing some editing that day and I then…compared it to plucking a chicken after you’ve slaughtered it. Yeah, hearing it in my head it sounds really weird. But you’ve got to hear me out, it’s got merit as a metaphor. It even got a like or two after I posted it.

Then again, that like might’ve come from my dad, so…

Anyway, let me explain my reasoning for comparing editing to plucking a freshly-dead chicken (still sounds weird in my head). An author writes a book, edits it so that when the reader gets it it’s not full of boring speech, grammatical errors, plot holes, etc., and then turns it into a neat little consumable package that readers can pick up in stores or on Amazon for their own perusal. Similarly, a farmer will raise a chicken from the moment it hatches, feed it, make sure it grows, and once it’s ready, kills it, prepares it, and then sends it in a neat little consumable package so that grocers can eat it at home.

See my metaphor? So now that the first draft has grown to full size and been slaughtered with a butcher’s knife been written, I’m in the process of editing it. And if editing four other books has taught me anything, editing is a lot like plucking a chicken and getting rid of all the other bits you don’t want to eat. Yeah, every word, every description and every flourish of the pen (or keyboard) seem absolutely necessary when you’re writing the first draft. But then you give yourself a little bit of time to distance yourself from this book you’ve just finished and then you see that there are parts that need work. Some things could be phrased much differently, others could be shortened or expanded upon. And a lot of the work you slaved over, you just decide to get rid of it. Why? Because on reflection you find that it’s extraneous or doesn’t make sense to you anymore. So you nix it.

See, that metaphor does work! At least, I feel it works, especially in my case. I put in all these big words and beautiful flourishes and lots of explanatory stuff, and on the second draft I realize (or my beta reader points out) that a lot of it is weighing the book down. Sometimes you have to pluck them out if you’re going to make the story ready for sale in your local supermarket in bookstores and on Amazon.

What metaphor do you use for editing?

Oh by the way, Rose is coming along great. I’m a little bit over a third of the way through my novel-that-doubles-as-a-thesis and will start a new chapter after this post. And can I just say, I forgot how scary and unpredictable my antagonist can be. He can be very strange, and you never know what’ll set him off. I’m definitely trying to emphasize that in the second draft. I think people will like him very much when they meet him. Or they will fear him. I seriously hope they fear him.

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