Editing has to be one of the most difficult and tedious aspects of writing. Would I be a complete nerd if I admitted to liking it? Taking that rough, unpolished piece of writing and transforming it into the art it was meant to be gives me a bit of a thrill. Especially when I am able to smooth out the stubborn kinks I had difficulty addressing during the first rough drafts.
There are so many different ways to go about editing your document. Creating timelines and lists to ensure plot and character development; creating spreadsheets to maintain continuity and keep track of small details; or just reading the work through, over and over and over. The thing is: how do you know when your work is really ready for that final print version?
The answer for me is simple. Record it.
For the past month, I have been recording Remember Newvember with Irondog Studio. I thought creating an audio book would be a fun way to get a bit more exposure and offer another media for those who commute to work or don’t like to read, but enjoy listening. In my naivety, I thought the recording would only take as long as it would to read the book – about five or six hours, total. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
To start with, one hour and twenty minutes of recorded material took over six hours to record. That was the first day. I was nervous, and uncomfortable. Mr. Zee insisted I wear headphones so I could clearly hear what he was hearing. I don’t like to listen to my voice under normal circumstances; can you imagine how it felt to hear it in stereo? The experience was a little creepy and took some time to get used to.
As I got more comfortable, found my own reading cadence and rhythm, I realized what a great tool this experience was for editing. I had thought my book was pretty much print-ready. I had already released it as an e-book, knowing that if necessary I could make corrections easily enough, but I had honestly thought it was well-polished and error-free. Reading the book aloud, slowly, to an audience of one, proved otherwise.
While I read, I found minor typos, a few grammar issues and awkward wording. Most importantly, I was able to figure out where the words flowed well, and where they just sounded weird. Mr. Zee was excellent at pointing out too many sounds that were similar; or highlighting sections that just didn’t make any sense. In all, the entire experience turned into one huge editing adventure, and not just the audio recording I had anticipated.
At this point, there remains one more session to complete the voice recording. In total, I think the recording aspect will take about twenty hours of studio time. Then, Mr. Zee will work his mixing, editing and audio magic so that we have a lovely finished product. I know there’s more to it than that – but that will have to wait for another blog.
Even if you don’t use the services of a recording studio, taking the time to read your work out loud to your dog, cat, spouse, child or neighbour (offer them whatever it takes to get them to sit and listen for twenty-plus hours), really does help with that final bit of polishing to make your work really shine.