Heavy Editing

Finally I have the house on the market and looking all neat and tidy for the photos. What will come of it I don’t know but it has made me put my skates on and complete the editing of “Close to the Edge” my book about the life and times of Holderness coastal communities. The idea of to-ing and fro-ing from France to complete it ain’t too appealing.

After the first round of editing I found I had committed every cardinal writing sin and probably invented some as well. One that keeps creeping in is that of slipping into the passive tense which dulls the writing and robs it of a sense of movement. On my old version of Word there used to be a gizmo that not only counted words, paras and sentences but also told how many times I used the passive tense and, even more helpfully, gave the reading age score (Flesch readability) which I found a useful guide. Now on the new version – the one with the scrolling toolbar – I can’t find it anymore which is a pity.

So now the second editing round is over what have I discovered?  Above all that it takes plain foolhardiness to savage one’s opus. It is scary to see your words flutter to the cutting room floor, as it were. After round 1 of editing, I forced myself to scrap about one third of the book entirely because it was repetitive, stuffy and made the book structurally incoherent. After that I introduced completely new material and then shuffled around great wodges of text like they were chess pieces. Shall I put it there…or maybe…no…there..no? I hate to say it but often it went right back where it started from…but it needed to be done.  Overall, I have improved the structure of the book and by grasping the thistle and abandoning a strict timeline approach (which was even  harder to do than scrapping parts of it) I think I have achieved something nearer my original idea.

The book is an eclectic mix – people, places, events and stories relating to this changing coast – chosen for no other reason than they tickled my imagination.  I have struggled with the tone from time to time – whilst aiming for quirky and occasionally irreverent, I wonder if I am a bit too flippant. Time will tell when the feedback comes in. Above all though, I hope it transmits some of the affection I have developed for a part of England where no major event of national importance ever occurred; where the one constant is a hungry sea gnawing at the cliffs; where, over the centuries people learned to adapt, build their settlements anew or go under and where a big sky suddenly shifts from grey, melancholy and brooding to  glorious sunlight casting sparklers on the sea.


The book is on its way to some strict beta-testers and depending on their feedback I think it will need an editing Round 3 –in the hands of a professional editor. In the meantime, I’ll tidy my desk, sharpen my pencils, and start to play around with an idea that’s been buzzing around like an angry hornet for a few weeks now.

9 thoughts on “Heavy Editing

    • No it won’t…cheapskate. Only the most exclusive emporia will have the privilege of holding stock. And…don’t be sarky. Of course the internet has reached France (actually it’s pretty good even in the most remote areas) however, I need to have a corporeal presence for some of my stuff rather than an ethereal one..unless you’re volunteering to do the legwork for me. 🙂

      • Tesco – CHEAP! I could have said Lidl or Asda but I hold you in greater esteem than that. Would love a signed copy when it happens.

        Will give fuller reply once I have checked out those big words you use. Would have loved to do legwork but gammy hip and war wound from Korea. . . You know how it is.

      • Worse still – poundstretcher – you’re right and forgiven 🙂 You’ll probably be the only person who wants a copy – it’s a pity I can’t make it a Chrissy pressy.
        Actually no I don’t know how it is. The first time I ever ask anything of you and you bail on me. Shame on you – war wound notwithstanding (nice long word for you to choke on). Take care and don’t let your bath chair run away with you 🙂 BTW: how’s your mag. op. coming along?

      • The world awaits with baited breath while I fiddle. I have just finished a project that has been five years on the go. I ‘make’ dvd shows – weddings, graduations, family history, etc. This one is my partner’s family history. The problem is her mother was one of nine kids – that means eighteen cousins for my partner. She has collected (over several years) photographs from them from far-flung places. Anyway, to make a short story long, it has taken me the last five weeks to complete that, which has been on-going for five years. You can see some of my creations at: http://gossamerimages.smugmug.com/Other/video/9381317_ECbX3#!i=652451927&k=JFcbGwH

        So, I only started the stairs and landing yesterday. Following that will be ‘Seeing Unseen’ (my working title) – Tesco has already been in contact, they are hoping it will boost sales for Xmas 2014. 🙂

      • This is so clever – the family history vid. I am continually dismayed by what others can do with technology in comparison to my inability to even take a photo that isn’t at 45 degrees.

        You can do better than Tesco – Waitrose at the very least but I’ll come back from France specially to buy a copy.
        Have fun with the stairs/landing – I’m smug because I got mine decorated for me. 🙂

  1. No major event ever happened? How about 1399 when Henry Bolingbroke landed on a predecessor of Spurn on his way to dethrone Richard II? And 1471 when Edward IV landed there returning from exile!!

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