Editing is Just Like Moving Home

My recent house move has seen me sorting, packing, moving, unpacking and sorting once more, it has seen me happy, miserable, delighted, exhausted, on my knees, pulling my hair out, burying my head in my hands and, at one point, I thought I might go insane – think ‘Blackadder Goes Forth’, a pair of pants and two pencils…

A bout of insanity

However, I survived – Yay!

What has this to do with writing? Well, as I rummaged through my possessions and clothing, deciding what should come with me and what should face either the dustbin or the charity shop, I decided this was a bit like editing.

It went something like this…

Moving Destination WIP Editing Result
Funky blouse, worn once to a party but a bit too bright for anything else. Charity shop Eccentric character put into novel just to liven things up, not really doing anything but just liked the look of them. Deleted completely
Beautiful dress, very elegant, bought for a wedding, again worn once but keeping it because there’s bound to be another wedding soon. Keep but with a deadline for wearing it or it goes. Taking up too much room. Descriptive writing, setting the scene but went off at a flowery tangent describing the countryside. A bit too drawn out and not moving story along. Cut the scene down. More concise writing, so it is more in keeping with the genre.
Plenty of t-shirts, of varying ages and wear, mostly black or white. Dustbin. Have definitely seen better days. Secondary characters – too many of them, some of them boring and not earning their keep on the page. Merged two of them into one. Heroine only needs one best-friend.
Favourite trousers but too tight, if only I could get back into them… Keep as inspiration. Pin a photo of them on the fridge in new house as a reminder and incentive. Have a great character that I really like but can’t quite get them to fit into WIP. Deleted but saved in a separate file for future WIP.
Skirt bought in a sale. A bit plain and not very exciting. Up-cycle! Jazz it up with some brightly coloured appliqué. Not enough dialogue or white space. Narrative just goes on and on. Characters given much more to say … Show and don’t tell. Their personalities are shining through better now.

Hard as it was to be ruthless with my packing, it was even harder being ruthless with my WIP but I do feel that both exercises were very worthwhile.  Now I’m in my new home, I just have to do it all again with the unpacking and, no doubt, do it all again with my WIP.


Would love to hear anyone else’s editing tips 🙂




13 thoughts on “Editing is Just Like Moving Home

  1. Love this post, Sue. Glad you’re getting settled in your new home – when is the house warming? I’ve got cake…

    Celia xxx

  2. Great post, Sue. Really cleverly done! And so true. Very best of luck in your new home. I shall raise a glass to you later on 🙂 Xx

  3. I empathise with the moving house… I’m not 4 months in and it does get better! As for editing my novels, I’m finding that more difficult. But I like your approach. Hope you’re now settled in.

  4. Oh Sue, what a wonderful post.:) It did make me smile. We have moved home and I remember all the things you describe so well. We still have four tea chests unpacked so I didn’t downsize enough. As I am on the last 22 pages of edit on a 450 page novel I hope I have been more disciplined with that! I have managed to cut 3500 words, practically a book. I did think about keeping them and turning them into a novella.
    Hints for editing, for me the main one is making sure my lengthy conversations are actually going somewhere and I wasn’t just taking a long time to get to the point (I often was and found it further down the page). I am getting better at being more direct and less waffle. I hope you are happy in your new home and have your writing space ready soon.

    • I had to do something similar a few months ago. I am a terrible hoarder, really had to be strict with myself. Definitely worth it. I hope you settle in and enjoy your new home.
      Lorraine x

  5. Ach, from one who’s been there in the not-so-distant past: GREAT POST. Well done on keeping calm and starting to unpack. And keeping your mind on editing all the while too. Awesome!

  6. A fab post, Sue. I love the way your mind works. Best wishes in your new home 🙂 xx

  7. Thank you all for your comments. Sorry I haven’t been able to reply individually but I’m with limited Internet access at the moment. However, I am pleased to report that Operation House Moving-In is very nearly complete.

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