As for editing... this topic has come about as a result of a recent interview I carried out with local children's author, Anne Wan. She loved and loathed editing and I thought I'd look at why I love editing for this post.
- The story will improve. You will get rid of wasted words. My bugbears are "very", "that" and "actually". What do they add to the tale? Nothing! So easy way to cut the word count and tighten up the story.
- On re-reading the story, you will remember why you wanted to write it in the first place. I think this is quite important. Especially in a long work (or a long collection, say), you can forget why you ever began it as you get towards the end. The re-read, after a suitable break away from the work, means you come back to it with fresh eyes. Yes, you will spot the errors. Yes, you will spot where you can do better but then that is the whole idea. You will also realise what you've written has its merits as well as its failings. It is good to remind yourself of that to drown out that horrid nagging voice telling you all you write is rubbish. It isn't! There is very little that can't be improved with a damned good edit or several...!
- You have something to work with. For one thing you have proved to yourself you can complete a story. (Not everyone does. How many would-be writers are out there?!).
- With the story as good as you can make it, you have something to send out to competitions, anthologies etc. Very little gets published on first acceptance but if you can send work out to where you can ask for feedback, do so. Especially if a few people tell you the same thing about your work (good or bad!), this can be invaluable for improving the work still further so you have better chance of publication next time with it. Equally you can pick up general writing techniques from this kind of feedback which will help you with the next story you write.