Editing is never an easy process, so I thought I’d share some tips. If you're anything like me, you're always trying to whip one MS or another into tip-top writing shape.
Supply list: Get together your printed MS, notebook, highlighter
My own process:
It's different for everyone, but here's how I go about it.
- I do a first draft, often re-reading sections and editing as I go (Draft one).
- I set it aside for about a month, then go back in and smooth everything out. At this stage, I read it through chapter-by-chapter, and jot down areas I want to improve, questions, etc.
- Then, I share it with my crit group (We do 20 pages/week, so I also edit each section again prior to submitting it for critique).
- I do another draft that incorporates any appropriate edits from the crit group (Draft 2).
- Let it sit for about two months and work on other stories.
- I go back through it again, mostly focused on tightening (Draft 3).
- I send it out for another beta read among a small group of critters who have never seen it before.
- By the time I get it back, about 4 months – I read through it again for a final edit (Draft 4).
Layer it: Trying to edit the entire manuscript at once can be overwhelming. Edit in layers, focusing on one thing at a time (by chapter or the entire book) so you can focus and not get distracted.
More advice and encouragement: The woman who owns my local writing studio and led my original crit group likes to say, “The second draft grows…because you’re adding information you’ve now realized you need, worldbuilding, character details, add’l scenes to fix plot holes, etc. The third draft begins to shrink…because you now have all the info you need, and you’re just focused on presenting it at its very best, in powerful, streamlined language.”
Good luck everyone!
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