Saturday, April 25, 2009

7 Things to Remember about Editing

Yes, there is a theme to every post I've made in the last couple of weeks. What can I say, I've got revisions on the brain. :) So, without further ado, here are ten things to keep in mind when editing.

1. Editing takes time. You think it took you a long time to write your first draft? Alas, you were just getting warmed up.

2. Editing requires organization. Otherwise, you will burn out, or lose steam because there just seems like too much to do.

I suggest . . .
3. Make notes, lists, pie charts, or whatever works for you in a writing notebook. Works for me, and I am--without question--one of the more scatterbrained people you will ever know.

4. Prepare yourself. The minute you send your story off to people to read (beta readers,) you will almost certainly find the most glaring typo in the world, the most clunky paragraph on the planet, and the lamest, most flat-falling joke in the entire universe staring you in the face in your manuscript.

Which is why you need to . . .
5. Get two kinds of beta readers. The ones who will tell it to you straight, and a few who will wax rhapsodic on the perfection of your story. Trust me, both are very important.

6. Give yourself space in between editing rounds. It will help you see your story with fresh eyes.

And last of all . . .
7. Dream big! I firmly believe that without big dreams and big plans, the overwhelming task of editing a novel will make you want to throw in the towel. So, keep up that confidence! And go forth and conquer!


  1. BRAVO Renee! I love this post! I agree completely! And I love how you came up with 7 things... I'm all about the number 7! heheeh! LOL! And number 4 is my middle name... I swear, the second I send off my book I start reading it and then I find all sorts of stuff I never saw before! LOL! And of course, I love #7, since I believe the people who achieve their dreams are the failures who never gave up! Jenni

  2. I just recently submitted my first four chapters to my writing group and right afterward I found several glaring errors! Yet they were all able to overlook them and I ended up getting rave reviews, so I think sometimes we are far more worried than we need to be. Readers are forgiving and know we're only human. It doesn't change the fact that I would still prefer to send out a perfect copy.

  3. Jenni-Thanks! Yeah, I'm afraid #4 comes from recent, personal experience. :D But, I think I'm calming down now. (I think, lol)

    Candice-I think writers are, by breed, far more worried than they need to be. :) But, you are right, readers are very forgiving. Especially betas, since they know this isn;t the final draft.

  4. Great advice, Renee. Love number one, because I'm a very impatient person and I want it done now. And number seven better be on everyone's list. This post is timely for me too because it seems like editing is all I've been doing lately.

  5. Thanks, Renee. I really need to embrace my editing issues!!

  6. This is such a great site. Thanks ladies for all of the great information! I totally agree about editing. I usually have scads of revisions--if you don't revise until you've decided it must be utter tripe it could probably use another look-through.

    No seriously, after I write and edit it a couple times I always send my manuscripts out to trusted friends who will tell me I'm brilliant, and then not pull any punches about the less-than-brilliant bits. During the time that they have it I won't even look at it. I tell everyone not to tell me what is wrong with it, what they think of this character or that. Just write it down.

    When all of the critiques come back a month or so later, I sit down and make notes on the document, add minor adjustments and reconsider what I've got on the paper. Then there is at least 2 more revisions (the first to encorporate all of the not-so-tiny changes, and the second and third--and possibly fourth--to polish) before I send it out. (Keep in mind I have a weekly critique group that sees it *before* I do the edits and send it for full manuscript critiques).

    Even with all of this, five minutes after dropping my latest manuscript off at my publisher last week, I still had to hold back panic when I was hit by the utter certainty that they would *hate* this book and wonder why they ever agreed to publish the first one.

    I truly hate editing--if only I didn't like my book so much better after I slogged through a thorough rewrite. =)



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