Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Editing, Editing, Editing

So you've finished your novel. Hooray! You've put it aside for a while, long enough to get new perspective on the story. It's time to pull it back out, and slice your darling into pieces. So what do you do?

There are as many ways to edit as there are writers, and I want to hear from you. What's your way? Do you go chapter by chapter, or do you go through the whole thing working on one thing at a time, like characterization or intensifying emotions?

Talk to me, People!


  1. 1 - right after I'm done I read it out loud to the husband. There are a lot of pauses and me keeping naughty words to myself as he waits patiently for me to continue.
    2 - goes to my good friend who always has nice things to say.
    3 - sits
    4 - Beg someone who will be harsh to read a few chapters (go through the rest of the book keeping their suggestions in mind)
    5 - randomly stop of pages throughout MS and edit
    6 - let it sit
    7 - Find another reader
    8 - read from beginning to end again
    9 - I have yet had the guts to do this - print it out and toss it in the air, edit random pages
    10 - get that thing off to someone
    11 - I'm totally copying this into a blog post to use later when I can't think of what else to write.
    I'm totally checking back to see what everyone else has down.

  2. I'm about a month away from editing mss #4. What seems to work for me is this. Each day I write, I reread the previous day's work but the only changes I make are minor typos. If there's stuff I know I want to change later, I highlight and make a comment in the margin with a short note about what it is, i.e. explain more here or needs more internal thought. Then when the whole thing is done, I put it down for a week. Then I pick it up and do one big read through in about a 2-day period, making tons of notes as I go, and the easier changes. Then I go back and do all the changes. That's a week to two weeks. THen I send it out to my two most trusted readers and don't look at it again for a month. Then I pick it up and make every last change I can think of based on what I see with fresh eyes plus their comments.

    It works. But I kinda hate editing. Still, my editor just finished my first manuscript and said it was the shortest edit letter she'd ever had to write, so I guess it works for me.

  3. Well, my technique for editing is called...avoidance!! Yep, that's what I do. First I tell myself I need to let it sit so I can see it objectively. Then I read a page or two later and stop out of depression. I tell myself I don't have time to fix it the way it deserves and let it sit some more. Months later I pull it out again, read a few more pages, decide it's hopeless and start a new book.
    Hmmm, yeah, it's not working so well. I'm excited to try other people's techniques instead!!



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