How Do You Edit?

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In last week’s post I discussed reaching the halfway point in my novel and preparing to freak out all over the place in the face of everything that comes next. I asked for commentary and suggestions. The response was overwhelmingly in favor of editing until my brain leaked out of my ears, then gather my liquified brain into a turkey baster and squirt it back in so I can edit some more.

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Minus the turkey baster scenario, I was already planning on this. My actual writing process actually includes quite a bit of editing in and of itself. I outline a chapter on the white board. Make changes. I write out a fleshier outline in my notebook. Make changes. I write a bare bones chapter on my netbook. Make changes. The next day I flesh it out. The day after that, what do I do? I MAKE CHANGES. I search for crappy verbs and vague descriptions, repetitive words, etc. I polish up the chapter real nice and pretty damn shiny before moving on.

So my question to you guys is this: How do you edit your manuscript? Do you do anything special? Anything unique that allows you to really get a feel for the flow of the story and any plot holes or characterization flaws? So far I’ve read about printing the manuscript out in landscape mode, in two collumns, to imitate the appearance of a paperback. I’ve also heard (twice now) of downloading text-to-talk software and listening to your manuscript. Anything else I’m missing? Weigh in below!

18 thoughts on “How Do You Edit?

  1. Well, I hafta say you do a heck of a lot more than I do. I hand write out a synopsis of each chapter, between 1-2 pages. Then I type it up and just go with whatever comes to me. Then I move on to the next chapter. A lot of my ideas come as I write, and not necessarily as I’m writing the chapter I’m working on. I can be working on chapter 20 and an idea hits me for chapter 1, so I jot it down and keep working on chapter 20. I keep working through the rest of the chapters and then go through my notes and start editing from chapter 1, adding in the ideas I had from before. I guess I do it this way because, like I said, I get more ideas as I write, so if I go back and change chapter 1 while I’m working on chapter 20, who’s to say I won’t change my mind about chapter 1 while I’m working on chapter 23? So, I keep plugging along and noting my ideas down. This way, I don’t spend lots of time rewriting stuff only to chuck it out the window.

  2. I don’t to any oif that stuff. I know where I want to start and where I want to end and that is it. The rest is a total surprise until I finish. As for editing, I do a run-through, then another, then I read it to my writer’s group, make fixes based on their recommendations (or not) then I find a beta reader or two then edit it again. That’s it. The whole novel is a thought stream and I’ve NEVER had to make any major changes. I’ve eliminated a chapter or scene here and there, but never a major plot point or anything taking away from what I originally intended. I just don’t work that way. I never outline or plan ahead. That would just suck the creativity right out of what I’m trying to do, kill my muse.

    That’s my way of doing it.

    • I don’t really outline ahead of time either. I meant that I outline each chapter as I go so I don’t have an entire outline of my novel. I also started with a beginning and an end. But as I complete one chapter, I see what’s going to happen next and outline that, and so on.

  3. I am definitely more of a write all the way through kind of person. I do plot cards and I know where I am going and a lot of the middle if not all. That being said whatever I write I look over the next day and make sure I am happy with the direction. I always read it printed out not on the computer. I make changes in red ink and then get on with my writing for the day. I don’t do any major rewrites until I am done. That is when all the big editing begins for me. I agree with above but I think my muse would kill me in my sleep. She’s kind of mean like that.

    • Wow, I really think if I wasn’t such a OCD-like writer, I’d be able to finish this first draft faster because I wouldn’t have to polish each chapter up so much. *sigh*

      Do you print it out so you can use your red pen? I think I’m going to print it out when the first draft’s finished. Sounds good.

      Muses are definitely mean. I think of them like the beautiful mermaids in the last Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Haha.

  4. I outline my chapters and do my character sketches…but then I just write. I write all the way through until I get to the end of the story – then I go back and edit (work on my rewrites). I think if I edited as I went along…I’d probably never finish the story (especially considering how much I dislike the rewriting process). 🙂

  5. Rewrite, stare, rewrite, stare, realise I’ve missed something, stare, procrastinate, back to staring at the screen some more. That seems to be my rigorous process 😉

  6. I’m an editor, have been writing for magazines and business clients for many years, have a non-fiction nature book out, and have just finished my first novel (mystery, set in Hawaii, my home), and I always edit the same way: small changes when I read what I’ve written the previous day, but no major edits or polishing until I’ve finished the whole thing. Often that involves rewriting whole sections or chapters. Also, reading it out loud really helps.

    • Thanks for the tips! I really need to focus on the “no major edits until I’m finished” thing. Sometimes I really get caught up and can’t move forward. Oh well.

      By the way, thanks for the interest in my book’s release date on AJ’s blog. I responded to you on there as well. Take care, stop by again!

      • You’re welcome. I hope I offered something useful. This is just my way. Every writer has to find a way that works for her. But I find that if I try to revise and polish along the way, I just get stuck. Looking forward to reading your book. It sounds great.

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