Saturday, June 25, 2011

It was the Best of Times, It was the Worse of Times: Editing

So, I wrote another book over the last 3 weeks.

And now I'm editing it. 

Editing is a strange animal. I've edited (pauses to count on fingers) 5? books at this point (I've completed I think 9 novels, but not all of them made it to the editing stage), and no two editing experiences have been alike. With some books, I know there's something wrong but I just don't know what. With some books I read them through, mainly correcting small things like grammar and syntax, and with others I rearrange chapters, cut large portions, or add additional subplots. Every story is different. 

I'm also reading through both Self-Editing for Fiction Writers and Writing the Break-Out Novel right now as part of my self-assigned writer's homework. The Self-Editing for Fiction Writers is proving more helpful for this stage (although I'm getting some great pointers for my book from the Maass book too, particularly when it comes to my characters and my story's ending, which both need a little tweaking right now.

Anyway, I was wondering. What do you guys do when you edit? Do you have any helpful hints or secret strategies that work for you?

My plan so far:

1. Let book sit for a week or so, work on other projects. Gain emotional distance from the piece. CHECK
2. Let 1-2 beta readers at it, hear their suggestions and comments. CHECK
3. Re-read story, trying to think as a reader. SEMI-CHECK?
4. Brainstorm story as a whole. What works? What doesn't? Are there any unresolved issues, any characters that faded into the background, any problems with pacing or proportion? SEMI-CHECK
5. Apply changes, add necessary scenes, subplots, descriptions as necessary (NOTE: I almost never cut anything as major as a chapter or subplot, but generally I add at least 5k to the MS in edits. Sometimes I add as much as 15k in edits. I tend to write spare and lean, fleshing the story out as I reread and rewrite. I'd rather add than subtract, it's less emotionally exhausting to me.)
6. Re-read story out loud, checking for dialogue awkwardness, typos, and flow problems.
7. Submit back to betas.

That's basically my process. It works pretty well for me, but I'd love to hear suggestions about what anybody else does. Thoughts?


  1. I have no tips for you yet. I just wanted to say that I can't wait to get to the stage where, like you, I can't remember exactly how many books I've written or edited. That's some work you've put in there :)

  2. Thanks, Sarah. Over the last 3 years or so it's just snowballed ...


Have something to say? Leave a comment!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...