Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Art of Editing

The Shining, Redux
I know this is 3 years old, but it is Brilliant and worth showing again.

Robert Ryang entered a contest run by a post-production house where assistant editors were to take any movie and cut a new trailer for it — but in an entirely different genre. Mr. Ryang chose the most famous horror movie of all time, “The Shining,” Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 horror film starring Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall. Look what it became in his hands.

The reason I'm showing it here is because I think the editing process for writers can be so similar. You cut and rewrite and cut and rewrite, continually changing it until sometimes you have an entirely different novel or story from what you conceptually started with. Sometimes it's good and the changes are better, but other times you go too far and you need to go back to the original idea. I find my revising process can be a minefield if I'm not careful. I recently cut out 15,000 words from my WIP and now the tone is different, the pace is different. So far I think it's good, but when does it become too much? When do I need to be cautious of the delete key? Editing is an art. (See above trailer to confirm this.) But when is too much editing, well, too much? I don't know and hopefully I won't end up with a product so different from the concept of my original idea. It is a balancing act and I am trying to be careful of that line right now.


Vesper said...

Amazing, Ello! I haven't seen this video before it proves your point exactly. Yes, editing is a fine art...

Robin S. said...

Hi ello,

I'll watch the video in the morning - I just wanted to say that I'm with you on editing. I'm working through what I hope is the final draft of my novel right now, and I swear this is more of a landmine than writing it was in the first place. I've sat on it for a while, on purpose, but now I'm hesitatantly reading through.

CL gave me some really good advice- she told me to stop imposing such stringent deadlines on myself, as this is the first time I've written a novel - and I think she's right - because I'm finding myself stymied.

Carleen Brice said...

Love that trailer! I hope you kept the 15,000 words you cut in a different file. Just in case. I often end up re-using things I cut, even if just a description of a place from a scene I no longer need.

March to the Sea said...

those are always funny..i think there was one that made the Titanic a comedy too..

Charles Gramlich said...

This was really funny. I remember watching it several times when it first came out.

Precie said...


Good luck with your revisions. Sounds brutal, but worthwhile!!
And I like Robin's advice...don't push too hard. If you need to take a break or slow down to maintain your vision, that's ok.

Oh, and congrats on being in Novel Deviations 3!! :)

Melissa Marsh said...

I remember editing a short story and I stripped my voice right out of it. Took me awhile to realize it, but I'm glad I did.

Robin S. said...

By the way girlfriend, have you thougyt of asking EE this question - I mean- after all-
he is an editor - and it seems to me this would be the perfect discussion for him.

I agree with you - editing is a bitch - knowing what to keep- what to excise, while keeping your tone and your voice and your idea and your plotline intact.