The first rule of editing fight club: Read as many books on the craft as you can.
The second rule is don’t talk about it, no one wants to listen your unedited, conceptual dribble. They are worn out, they are exhausted, your crazy ideas make them feel trapped. Get over it, your literary friends are in your head. Ask them.
But, you are a writer, you say, and dialogue makes the story.
Go back to your isolation tank, and let’s get onto rule three.
Rule three is to ask yourself, does what I wrote make me happy. If it doesn’t, toss it on the scrapheap, and try not to do that manic thing we writers do. It’s good. It’s great. It’s bad. I’m doomed, I love it. I think I’ll drown myself in a bottle of scotch.
“Oh you do like it I’m so relieved. Hello recovery clinic, hello?”
They don’t want to hear it either.
Pretend it’s a screenplay and only read the dialogue, does it stand on its own?
Worried about punctuation and double words? Read it backwards, paragraph by paragraph. My eyes they bleed! My head it hurts.
Read it forwards. Not as easy as it sounds.
Read it out loud, the loudest in bed!
Read it when you’re walking down the street, staring at that yoga panted redhead. Be careful, people forget to use turn signals…
Read it to your kids. They will tell you it sucks with no hesitation.
Take out the commas. Oo ah eh?
Does it flow Grasshopper?
Listen to your gut, listen to your heart, and above all to your head.
Get a critique partner, someone who you like, that you can take criticism from. Someone who likes what you write. And as always we know it is easier to talk to a stranger than it is to a family member or a close friend.
Family members will not want to edit with you at home or the park, in the car or with a hen and a loaf of ham. You’re crazy story ideas will leave them saying damn. And most important of all hide it away for 6 months and write something else while you wait for the egg timer to buzz and have fresh eyes to look at your newly hatched novel.