Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Avoid the Editing Trap

More has been added to the plotline. All of the artwork on every single page has been redone. But still there’s that nagging feeling of unsatisfaction. That one sentence...just isn’t right. And that dialog there needs to be changed...again.

The line between making a story something that you love and absolute perfectionism is super thin. I always want my stories to say exactly what I want them to, but yet I always have this fear of getting into the trap of editing my stories over and over until it reaches the point of where I feel like my story is falling apart from over editing. It’s NEVER going to be right.

If you’ve been to that place before (I definitely have), maybe it’s time to reflect on what you’re working towards. Whenever I find myself leaning more towards ridiculous perfectionism, I stop and ask myself, “What is the message I’m trying to get across? Is my theme fully developed?”

If I see that the message and theme of the story are getting across clearly to anyone who reads it, I worry a little less about fixing every little thing. If the things that are the most important to my story are working well, it may be best to leave it alone. The purpose of editing is not only make sure that your story reflects your own personal vision, but also to make sure that the key elements of it are being transmitted as well.

There can be problems when the personal vision side of things is either too exact or too unspecific. If what you want is too exact, it can lead to obsessing over little details that have no impact on the story. I often ask myself if fixing a minor detail will add credibility or clarify the plot and theme of the story. If it doesn’t, I let it go. Also being too exact makes creating a story unflexible. Sometimes really neat ideas come in from everyday life, and if you’re stuck on one kind of vision, you may not recognize a great element to add your story when you see it.

On the other side of things, having an unclear vision of your story can make you unsure of what you’re trying to work towards. You can keep editing and editing to get it right, but yet, you have no idea what right is. Not knowing the message or purpose of your story can keep you wandering aimlessly in editing and revising land.

The ideal place to be is somewhere between “I know what this story is, and I know what I want,” and “It’s a little different from what I envisioned, but it still makes me happy.”

Besides knowing why I’m creating a story in first place, I try to set a resonable deadline for editing. I decide how much of my story I want to have edited by a certain date. At the moment I’m working on a short novel, and although I’m not done with first draft yet, I’ve already set goals of when I would like to finish the first through fourth revisions and edits. Even if I don’t reach those goal perfectly, at least I know that one day I’ll be totally done with my project.

As a webcomic artist, there’s also another issue related this: redrawing pages. Sometimes it’s a great thing to do. Sometimes it’s not. I’ll share my experience of redoing pages in a post that will be coming in the very near future.