The Joys (And Woes) of Editing

Those of you who have been following my last couple of blogs are probably looking at the title of this one and saying to yourselves, “Wait a minute, I thought she said she was having an editing party?” Believe me I am, but let me explain.

After I grab my cup of coffee….

Ah…that’s better. Now that both eyes are open, I’ll explain.

Like everything else I’ve started doing differently this time around, I am approaching editing differently too. One of the biggest changes has been writing my MS by hand and not typing it up on my laptop. Kinda archaic huh? Well for me, it was perfect. Three-hundred-sixty-sheets later (I had the hide my stash of notebook paper from my kids before they confused it with paper for their homework!)  my story was down on paper. There were a lot of scratched out, marked out words or lines on the perfectly white paper. Let’s not even talk about the misspelled words! LOL. But the point is, the markings left behind were done as I wrote, as I focused on what my characters thoughts or feelings were in a scene.  At the end of each day and the start of each morning, I’d go back and read the last ten pages to pick up where I was the night before and continue.

I’m pretty sure that’s what most authors will do. But me, I have a problem.

The first time around the writing block, I typed my MS. And every morning when I sat down in front of my computer screen and re-read the work from the previous day, I always…ALWAYS started making changes right then and there. And something would change. It could be the mood of the scene, what the character was thinking, the clothes they were wearing. In short, I would re-write exactly what I wrote the day before. It would be hours before I moved forward. And when I did, the whole scene would come out differently. Why? Because I was writing by the seat of my pants with no outline, no character charts and no plan. And I was editing as I wrote. (My hubby kept telling me this, but did I want to believe him? Nope and look what happened.)

The result? A story that had my critique partners (I was a newbie to the group) asking me if the story was YA, Chick lit or Romance. I was also told that it started of good (I can write the heck out of a prologue!), the dialogue was engaging, but after chapter three, the story started to lag. Several of my other writing attempts started off the same way. Again, this was a year ago, before I started out writing like a true author and not just a woman with characters living in my head and dying to get on paper.

I spent this past weekend reading my entire MS for the first time, from beginning to end. I managed to impress myself. First of all with the fact that I’d wrote a story with much better character development than in my first version of the story (the one that was genre confused). As I read, I made notes on minor changes to the plot or something that needed to be added to a scene that would make it better.

But, I still wasn’t quite ready to start editing.

One of my critique partners sent me some information on self editing for writers. I sat down, read the information an made notes. Now I have an editing plan. I have six steps that I will be following as I edit my chapters before I move to the next. Those steps are:

    1. Type up the chapter without spell checking anything. Just straight from paper to the screen.
    2. Read the scene (s) and add/delete descriptions, emotions, etc. if needed.
    3. Check for viewpoint slips or wordiness
    4. Re-read again to check the pacing of the scene. Making sure there’s a beginning, middle and end/cliff hanger point
    5. Search for repeated words- this is the most time consuming and the woe I mentioned. It’s a woe because I have a list of words I have this habit of repeating, twenty-eight to be exact, and I have to do a find on each one….per chapter. The thesaurus has become my best friend.
    6. Read it all again, out loud or record myself (I’m going to use my digital recorder) and listen to it to see how it sounds.
    7. Make another pass to correct anything that didn’t sound right when I listened to myself read it.
    8. Send it to my critique partners and pray I get good feedback!
    9. Move to the next chapter and repeat the process.


    If you want to find articles on Self Editing, go to Google and run a search for Self Editing for Writers, you’ll find a lot of free information or books that can help you edit your MS.

    So as you see, the exciting part is the fact that I’ve completed writing my MS (YEAH!) and get to see it all come to life on paper. There’s nothing like bringing your characters to life. I feel like I’ve given birth again (without the pain or drugs…or the grocery bill and elevated stress levels of having four kids. LOL. I love you guys!) The woe is the long, tedious process of perfecting each chapter (Woe is me!). But the end results are going to be wonderful. I can feel it and I can’t wait to share Keisha and Brian’s story to the world.

    So, what is your editing process? Please share!

    One thought on “The Joys (And Woes) of Editing

    1. So for me…I saved each chapter in a common folder as a separate .doc and then I had one .doc that I put everything in to. Sometimes I'd write whole chapters in one sitting which is good but after like three days of that in a row I'm kind of burned out and need a couple days off to recharge. I can resist the urge to change thing until I've sent a chunk out to my critiquers then I want to go back through and edit everything even after i've already emailed them a copy. I've gotten a little better with this because I realize I can just wait until I here their opinions before I make huge changes (I use logic against myself) lol.Now I'm at the stage where the whole novel is done and I'm editing it from start to finish. I like to edit by hand. So I print out a copy and then mark it up. I'm almost done with the first run through. I've been stuck at the last 20pages. Life has kind of been in the way and I haven't edited for maybe a week or two? It's kind of mind boggling because editing is almost like re-writing a the novel. I have these moments where I am reading lines and all I'm thinking is LAME LAME LAME or CHEESEY! lol But I think if you can manage to work through all the self-doubt it'll be worth it. Or at least that's what I'm hoping for.

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