A painful procedure somewhat akin to giving birth...
sigh We hate this part in our story. We absolutely hate it. Here you have been, writing your heart and soul out onto a stupid thing of paper, and you're finished.
...That should be the end. Hell, you'd LIKE it to be the end, but, as it is, it is not. It is only the beginning. Only the prelude to EDITING!
cues 'Psycho' theme
First off, and I want you to repeat this with me:
Just because my writing is bad does not make me a bad person. I am a good soul, but I struggle. When someone edits my paper, it is not a personal attack against me, it is simply a criticism against my brainchild...which is still not me.
Why am I telling you this?
Because as writers, sometimes we tend to take critiques a little bit...personally. Now, mind you, not all of us do that, but there is the occasional one of two who do. And therein lies the problem: when you are have a paper critiqued, expect the worst. Expect it to be raked into.
...but be GRATEFUL for that. Be very grateful. When someone reviews your paper, more or less it is a sign of respect that they are doing so, a sign that they respect you as a writer and will do everything they can to help you get better.
So! Now that I have that little tidbit done, we shall move on.
EDITING: THE FIRST STEP/S
1: Believe it or not, my first advice to you is that you, in fact, do NOT critique your work. Actually, what I would prefer you do is this: once you have entered that final period, that final sentence, lean back in your chair. Relish the fact you're finished. Say to yourself: thank GAWD and ever other holy being that this goddamn thing is FINISHED. YES!
And then? Well, besides the most obvious act of saving, go away. Get lost. Get out of your room, away from your desk and your stupid computer, and go for a walk. Chiill. Soak in the act that it's done.
After this is through, mosey home and avoid your computer. Stay away from your story for a few days. The main thing here is that when you're done with your story, leave it alone. Let it rest. You sure as hell didn't have a break when you were writing--now it's definitely the time to chill. As the great Snoop Dogg said: Chillax.
2: Whew. A coupla days later. You feel better. Rejuvenated. Now?
I still don't want you to look at your work. What I do want you do to, however, is to print/email/post your story online. And allow it to be victimized.
I know, weird, right? Here you are, thinking, "I probably should get to read my story first, probably should edit it before putting it online."
The answer to this?
Even if the spelling is incorrect, even if there are a few blurbs, post it up and simply tell your readers: "this is a rough draft. I want you to critique this. NOW." They'll understand that it's not your best work. And they'll act accordingly. The good ones will point out flaws, and the bad ones will tell you how good it is. But the fact is that let others read it before letting your self-depreciating eyes get a hold of it. That way, while your cruising through your story in the future, not only can you have other reviewers thoughts in mind, but your own as well. When doing this, you're killing not only two birds with one stone but helping yourself fit together the ideas of your readers with yourself. Wow. Yin and Yang, baby.
3: Okkaay. Now that your friends have edited it, it's YOUR turn. This will be the most painful part of the story for you. This will be the part when you look back at your work and cringe at its mediocrity, it's stupidity and its...ugliness. And my only words to this? Take it easy. Again: you're not perfect, and your writing will not be as well. It takes time and a lot of mistakes to become an excellent writer and, even then, there are some flaws in the system.
1:Read through your entire story. Now that your buddahs have edited it, it's your turn to read what they critiqued. But that's all. Just read it. Notice the nuances in the tale, notice the good and bads. But that's it. Just notice for now. Observe.
2: Once you have finished that tidbit, now it's time to get out the red pen. But first: don't critique for yourself. Put the ideas of your friends in first. Ignore everything but what they remarked on, and fix that. It's a slow process, I know, but it will all pan out. Trust me.
3: Alrighty: the third step of the third step. Now it's YOUR turn to read and review. gasp I know, it's a big deal for you, but I think you're a big kid and can handle it. Now that everyone else's ideas have been put into your story, it's your turn to come in, clean up any other messes you see and fix up your baby to perfection.
But this will be hard. Don't make it easy...But don't make it hard. Make yourself think, but don't make yourself have aneurism. It's all about moderation. I've known some writers to completely raze their work and basically start over. Is that a good thing? No. Keep what you originally put forth, but just tweak it a little bit. Obviously if the English is bad, then fix it posthaste, but as to the ideas of your story? Don't kill them. They are but young infants in a harsh world, and need all the nurturing they can get. Play with them a little bit, show them the ropes and teach them 'yes' and 'no', but don't kill your ideas. They're your kids.
That would be pedocide.
Well, my friends...I think that's it. I think that is the last thing I had to do. I hope that my guide to writing has helped you, and I hope that, in turn, your writing blossoms into a be-au-ti-ful flower. A flower that not only you but the others around you can admire.
Thank you for your time,