Thursday, January 26, 2012

How Do I Edit? Let Me Count the Ways!

Editing.  For some this conjures up thoughts of pulling out hair, others rub their hands in anticipation as this is where the real work is done.

I have a tendancy to underwrite on my first draft, which can be a good thing, but there are times it leaves me quite frustated when trying to make a word count.(I'm still about 1700 words short of 50,000 for my surrent WIP).  So, my editing usually isn't only about looking for the words I overuse, but also fleshing out the scenes with description and dialogue tags.

To give you an idea of my process, here is what I did this week with QUEST:

I read through from the beginning, keeping an eye out for typos and letter reversals (from/form- things like that) pulling out any unnecessary "that" (I never knew how much I used this word until a friend pointed it out)  and my new favorite "then".  (Seems I replaced that with then.  Wonder what I've replaced then with!) I evaluated my words choices, replacing and reworking sections that read clunky.  I added some description to a few scenes and adjusted my dialogue tags.  There were a couple chapters that seemed to run long, so I merged them into other chapters as well as created two new chapters.

Then I sent it off to my lovely CP's for them to read through and point out what they find.

Now, I will take a few days away and next week I will read through it again with fresh eyes, trying to read as a reader, not an author (this never lasts long, as the author tends to want to pull out the red pen again!)  I will look for repeat words and overuses again, check for too many pronouns in a sentence and reword these.  By this time, I will be hearing back from my CP's (they send in chapter chunks as they get to it-- usually we exchange 3 chapters at a time, but this time it was the whole thing).  I'll read their comments and look at the problems,  making changes where they all had an issue.  If only one has an issue, I think about it, making sure it isn't just an opinion before I make any changes.

Do you like editing as much as or more than drafting?  What is your process like?  Share below!


  1. I don't like editing nearly as much as writing, but I've found that doing it in small chunks of 3 or 4 chapters is definitely most useful for me. Good luck Mary!

  2. I LOVE copy editing. I am a grammar freak! It bugs we to no end when published works have errors. I think every writer should know the ins and outs of a good grammar book.
    But, of course, I enjoy writing first drafts most of all.

  3. I hate editing. I think it is far more difficult than the drafting stage.

  4. Editing all the way! I conduct specific edits: The character edit (taking the perspective of each main character throughout the entire book), the detail draft where I scope for all 5 senses in every scene and round out descriptions/metaphors etc, the continuity edit to make sure all those loose ends are tied up, and the flow checker--charting length of scenes against the a climax chart and making sure there's a good balance, and of course the grammar/repetitive word edit.

    Seriously, the joy comes in editing for me--once the hard work of writing the book is done and I get to delve into the deeper motivations of my characters. There's nothing so invigorating as being able to write in a new scene or an unexpected twist that only happened because I spent too much time in a WIP.

    1. Definitely enjoy writing more than editing. I usually get discouraged, feeling like I'll never get it where I want it. That's usually when I take a step back for a breather, =).


  5. I have a list of great editing tools for writers on my blog. After the first few beta runs/edits done, using these can find tons of things to fix.


Thanks for dropping by. I love reading comments and will respond by e-mail as soon as possible.