Sarah J. Carlson

Contemporary Young Adult Author

Non-writers just don’t understand: Editing is…um…hard…



Hey, writer friends, what’s up? I was recently tweeting a fellow writer and she mentioned her latest editorial struggle (as depicted in above meme). This is totally me. I am a verbose person. Good for reaching the target word count, bad for keeping it under…. I try to set a goal of keeping my YA contemporary around 80,000 words. Which is almost impossible for me. So I start slashing words. A lot of words.


I go through my MS  line-by-line, word-by-word, slashing whatever is not absolutely necessary. …and while cutting things, I’ll realize I need to have more internal monologue or emotional reaction or non-verbals to really convey the impact of a particular scene or the character’s progress on an internal or external story arc. And–tada!–not only have I failed in my goal of cutting X number of words, I’ve actually added 2000. …which leads to another edit.

tumblr_inline_mqbuizV6Sb1qz4rgpBut I trust the process. In the end, my story will be better for it!

Writer friends, what is your focus when you edit? Too many words? Too few? Those pesky adverbs? Telling instead of showing? Commas and semi-colons?

10 thoughts on “Non-writers just don’t understand: Editing is…um…hard…

    1. sjoycarlson Post author

      Haha yeah! And what happened to me last time was I discovered places where I actually was a bit too spartan…which is what lead to adding words, even as I was cutting them! Good to be reminded I’m not alone LOL.


  1. phantomwriter143

    I’m verbose just like you. Writing enough is never the problem. I have an issue with using too many of the same words. And I’m on the adverb train. Everyone says down with adverbs, but I do like to use them. Not too much, of course, but I do have to cut them out sometimes.


    1. sjoycarlson Post author

      Haha yeah, writing is such a delicate balance! It’s kind of ridiculous how many things you have to juggle while writing and the judgements you have to make. Oh, adverbs…. Oh redundancies…


  2. maniacmarmoset

    I struggle with having enough words personally. So my editing process is often an adding process as well. Also, when I am really struggling it’s always with big macro plot stuff and not little language stuff. I can write pretty language until the cows come home and then I can write sonnets about the cows, but plot is hard stuff.


  3. Bookgirl

    Yeah, but i find those new 5000 are sometimes the best. It’s editing number 4 and 5 which kill me. By then I hate every character, I don’t want to read another word and nothing could tempt me to write anything extra LOL.


    1. sjoycarlson Post author

      OMG YES! All of what you said, truth. Just pure truth. I cannot count the times I wanted to just start my WIP on fire. LOL. Locking it away for a while helps. And spot on about the new 5k, too, which makes it even harder! You feel me 😛

      Liked by 1 person

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