The CuriousPages Sketchbook

Editing: Irresistible Temptation

The passage of time is a wonderful thing; in the space of a single night, your whole world can seem to change (as far as personal perceptions of other people and situations, are concerned), but when several weeks have gone by, this can allow a writer a privileged glimpse of his own work—‘privileged’ since it allows you to see the work as a reader might.

Yesterday, I looked again at Irresistible Temptation and made several small changes, and larger changes to two passages, which, I recall, at the time of completing the work, I knew were not right, but I guess I felt lazy, or just impatient to finish the work and move on, so I let the flaws stay.

I don’t know whether these changes would amount to much in the mind of most readers. The two passages that I’ve made larger changes to, I think most readers would certainly notice the difference; but in general, the story is the same.

What strikes me is that I am now pleased with the story, and, within its scope, I even think that it is impressive. I’ve just read back the concerns that I expressed after completing the story, in which I described the story as merely a “lightweight entertainment”. And yet, now, three weeks later, I feel that the story is impressive. So, what has changed?

When I read it back this morning (after editing it yesterday), I was not focusing on checking each sentence for style, structure, minor typos, grammar, and the like. Instead, I was able to take all these elements for granted (for the most part) and simply read the story as any other reader would. I found that I was mostly aware of all the “hidden” meanings in the story, the meanings that were suggested to me by the extensive use of metaphor and other literary devices. This “hidden” content (the content that each reader must “invent” in his own mind, relying on his own past experiences of life to provide the content, and on these experiences being conjured up by the story’s allegorical nature) this content, I found was impressive, and it made the story a satisfying and stimulating read, for me.

I was struck by how different my impression was to my disappointing views of the story that I held immediately after finishing it. Allowing time to pass in this way is a useful editorial tool for a writer—or perhaps an essential tool.


The final version of the story

The first complete draft of the story


28 February 2010


See my notes on further editing of the story.


21 October 2010



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