Editing Processes

I find it interesting to hear other writer’s writing processes, particularly in regards to editing. I can almost hear the resounding groan from writers everywhere. There isn’t a fool proof way to edit, or a quick way for that matter… (if there is, please inform me- seriously!)

Here is a run through of how I tackle editing:

1. I leave my first draft to breathe for about 4 weeks, so I can go back to it with a fresh head.

2. I do not print out my first draft to edit in paper form. I know a lot of writers like to view their draft in paper form as it helps them to look at it in a different perspective, but just the idea of all that paper makes me palpitate. Yes, I know paper can be recycled, but paper cannot be recycled forever. Each time paper goes through the process, the fibres get shorter, the paper quality diminishes, and sometimes the paper only lasts four or five cycles at the most. I edit on the computer to save using paper in the first instant.

 3. I use a colour system during the editing process. I work through each chapter using the highlighting tool in Microsoft Word. If I’m happy with a paragraph I highlight it in yellow, if I think something needs re-writing it gets highlighted in green, and if I really don’t like something I highlight it in red.

4. As I do my highlighting run through, I also keep my notebook beside me and jot down everything I need to double check, research further, or add in/ take out. This ensures the narrative runs smoothly, and any little details I miss when drafting don’t get missed during editing.

4. Once I highlight my way through the whole draft, I go back through and start to rectify the green and red highlighted sections. I also use this run through to work through the notes I have taken, and make the necessary amendments. Time consuming is an understatement. This part of the editing process takes me the most amount of time.

5. Once I am happy with my amendments, I complete another run through to make sure the changes work with the rest of the story. This part of the editing process is also my chance to check the basics- grammar, spelling, and so on.

6. After the initial editing process I read through my draft once again. I probably re-read EVO Nation about fifteen times (I’m not exaggerating). I worked my butt off for nine months, so I wanted to ensure my finished manuscript was perfect.

Please let me know your editing processes, and your tried and tested tips.

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7 thoughts on “Editing Processes

  1. I haven’t gotten to that stage yet but usually for all smaller things that I write I leave the draft be for a few days and then come back to it to edit. Once my first draft for Rise of the Sparrows is done, however, I’ll give it two weeks at least before starting the edit. Distancing myself is a tactic which has worked beautifully for me before on everything else I’ve written. I’ll probably print the draft so I can go through it with pen and highlighters, but before any of that I’ll run it through spell check to get rid of at least some obvious mistakes. Then there’s the second draft, the second edit, the third draft, the third edit,….

    Or rather that’s my plan right now, (almost) half way through my first draft 🙂

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      1. Is it weird that I’m looking forward to the edit? I always looked forward to writing essays… (until I started, that is, although I almost feel like writing one now, just because) The edit is where the magic happens! I know the excitement won’t last, but maybe the first ten pages at least… Ah, I can dream!

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  2. I’m currently going through yet another revision of my first novel, so I can give you my experience on it.

    The last time I fully revised it was about a month ago. When I say, “fully revised,” I mean that I’m combing through it chapter by chapter. There are times when I’ll think of something I want to add in a specific place and so I’ll go back in and make the addition and revise around the area to make sure it fits (and sometimes a detail in a new addition will affect a detail in another chapter that I’ll have to go in and change so that it all fits together).

    Anyway, when I revise a whole chapter, I go in with a plan, looking for something specific that I want to change or fix. Along the way, I’ll keep an eye on things like the flow of the story and scene and whether any of the narrative or bits of dialogue no longer work for me and need to be rewritten or added to for the sake of detail. One thing I keep in mind, though, is that anything humorous is likely not going to seem funny or as funny the twentieth time I’ve read it. So while I do edit humor out at times, I take a long look at it to see if it should be dropped because it doesn’t work as well as I thought it did or if I simply don’t find it as funny as any joke I’ve heard multiple times.

    Something else I do, if I’m thinking about dropping a scene or making drastic changes, is copy and paste the scene into a blank document so I can keep track of it as it was originally written. This allows me to compare the new scene to the old and maybe insert something from the old into the new. This also allows me to compare the tone of an old scene versus the tone of a new scene. Sometimes I can write something lighter than it should be following something that occurred in previous pages, or I go a little dark when it should be lighter. Comparing old to new gives me a way to see this better.

    That’s pretty much all I do (I say this as if it’s not a lot of work). I like to edit on the fly, put myself back into feeling the flow of the story and the attitudes of the characters while I’m editing so that I can keep it going from one paragraph to the next without bogging down.

    Oh, and there’s one more thing I keep in mind while editing, one very important rule I edit by: Nothing is sacred. No matter how in love I am with something, if the story is better served by that thing I’m in love with being cut, then I’ll cut it. I’ve had to do this numerous times and it never feels good, but what has to be done, has to be done.

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    1. I love the tip ‘nothing is sacred’, because this is where I struggle sometimes. I find it hard to admit to myself that the chapter I had a great time writing, actually doesn’t work with the rest of the story. I will eventually bite the bullet and cut the dead weight, but it’s no easy feat for me.

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      1. What I’ve done to help ease the pain is to save what I’ve cut. That way, it may not be in the book, but it’s still with me.

        And hey, if you wanted to put together a Deleted Scenes section in the back of your book, not unlike what you find on your typical Blu-ray movie disc, I think it’d be an interesting read, seeing what you thought didn’t work well and getting your comments as to why you felt this way about a specific scene that you cut.

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      2. A deleted scenes section sounds great! The majority of my cuts happen because I’m forcing the characters to act out of character. Editing brings on my self-doubt, and I think this is why I enjoy writing my first draft a million times more than editing.

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