Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Getting back into the swing of things...

Isn't it funny how suitable things fall together? I'm starting to write/edit and today is my 200th post! Exciting hey?

Don't know which is more exciting, but for the purposes of today, we'll say it's the bit about writing/editing.

So yeah... Yesterday I couldn't stand the wait, so I took the day off and gave me a crash course on editing. The book I read, while informative, wasn't exactly the most applicable to creative writing, making me think of a gap in the market. Any takers?

Still, I'm about halfway through and picked up quite a few things. Main one being, how edits are supposed to work.

It also gave me an idea as to a strategy for the Doorways edits.

The book (Rewrite Right by Jan Venolia) talks about two stages in editing. I'm thinking there should be three for creative writers.

First, there should be a stage for the storyline. I have strings to stretch back or pull to the end. I have scenes requiring more depth. Emotions that need to be carried further, or not quite as far. That sort of stuff. I guess that's the revisions always referred to.

Second, we have to improve content. Refine what's been written.

Third, copy editing or correcting language issues.

Each one should be done separately, so that will be three rounds of edits.

As I finish chapters, I'll let other people read them and point out whatever I've missed. When I'm done with round three, I'll repeat, using the crit partner opinions.

After another three (hopefully shorter) rounds, I'll do the print-out and hand read. Likely another two rounds.

Finally, I'll be handing over to beta readers and polishing my WiP.

Hopefully after about 15 editing rounds, my book should be in a shape to send off into the big, wide world.

So that's the plan for now. It's likely to change as I work, but I felt a little better knowing that I have a strategy.

Anyone have any tips for me? This is new waters for me, so any advice will be most appreciated.


  1. Good luck with your book! Your first stage sounds more like revising than editing to me. I'd recommend Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King, excellent book.

  2. Misha,
    Congrats on your 200th post! There's a book by Anne Lamott called Bird by Bird which deals with revising issues. Hope that helps.

  3. 15 rounds sounds about right--teehee. I try to start with a holistic read--those story arcs/plot points, unfinished threads. totallay has to be the first edit round, as what is the point in changing WORDS if the words are getting cut anyway. It is also a good place to note strong or weak scenes. Next I read more carefully for wording level stuff and typos.

    THEN I give it to a couple critique partners who haven't seen it before for a fresh read, address THEIR issues. And another read for wording/errors. Then I think about things like pacing/voice and do an OUT LOUD read (maybe some word clouds on the first 3 chapters to see if I am over-using)

    It is a good time to know your critique partners. Some people actually try to edit for you, where others note big stuff. The former need your nearly done draft, the latter get the earlier ones. If you can find a pacing pro, you are golden.

  4. Congrats on the 200th post! :D

    And congrats on starting your edits! I'm knee-deep in mine but I don't have that much of a plan. I just edit each chapter at a time and try to fix everything I can at once. Usually it means I end up re-writing the whole thing (multiple times). If your method works I might have to switch :P

  5. Tip: Use your Find Tool to highlight extra words you won't need: of, that, then, about, and words ending in 'ly'. Find a list of over used words and go through your manuscript. I've got a plan to list those suckers on my blog, but have yet to do it.

  6. Congrats! on the 200th post. These milestones are always fun to achieve. Here's to 200 more!

  7. The read-aloud is very important. A lot of writers skip is because it's such a bug-a-boo. But it's really worth it--you'll find small pacing issues, awkward wording, redundancies, etc. But I'd definitely wait to do it until just before you're ready to start querying.

  8. I really liked the first and second tips. It's amazing how much better a piece sounds after adding in more detail and doing the reconstruction.

  9. @ Connie
    I agree. I started doing this...definitely a step that I stopped skipping.

  10. Congratulations on 200 posts! :)

    Good luck with your edits.

  11. Not much I can add to this - every writer's process is slightly different and it's great to have a plan. In the final stages, I do read aloud. Really helps spotting where sentences/words are clunky!

  12. I highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend taking Holly Lisle's 'How to Revise Your Novel' course. She breaks down all the steps needed to make sure your novel hits all those points and comes out of revisions a fully, well-rounded piece of work. It's honestly incredible, but really hard work that will make your book so much better in the end!

  13. Congratulations on your 200th post and having finished your first draft!

    The only bit of advice that I really have to add is walk away for about a week or so if you can. Or just a few days if that's all you need. Give your mind a moment to recoup before you re-read. Good luck and have fun!

  14. Congrats on your 200th post. I agree with Marjorie, Bird by Bird is a great resource for writers. Good luck!

  15. I've no advice to give on the whole book thing Misha. I come to your blog for advice lulz. But I wish you luck and great job on 200 posts.

  16. Yep, this sounds right. After various rounds of tweaks on different issues, I send to betas. After CPs and betas comments, I revise again and see if I can't find anyone else to read the latest version. THen I let it sit, try to distance myself from the story. When I return to it a month later, it's like a brand new story and I see it in a much clearer light.

    Best of luck on your revisions! :)

  17. my only tip would be don't get distracted by making the words pretty until you have the story structure right.

  18. Congrats on the 200th post! You have a great editing strategy and I can't wait to read Doorways! :)

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  20. 15 rounds of edits sounds mind boggling. But, I am sure you will have a sparkling manuscript by the end of it to send into the big bad world. Like Lynda, I too would advise to get your story structure right, before you worry about line edits and sentence structures.

    Congrats on you 200 th post.

  21. Major congrats on the 200th post! I have no idea how many I've done. Now I'll have to go look. :) I'm looking forward to reading more of your work. Write on my friend.

  22. I think it's great that you've refined your editing process. Aren't crit partners such a blessing?

  23. I'm TOTALLY with you on your round of editing.
    I do my fly-through
    Then I tell you WHERE the people actually are, what they might be doing with themselves
    Then I go back through and add in that emotion that's so PLAIN to me, but that I haven't described, and then yeah, the boring part.

    Good post. I think everyone finds what works for them. The read aloud is my fav part of revisions and editing.

  24. Congrats, indeed! Add an edit for character arc tracking. It's about impossible to catch everything all at one. I'm in at least my 4th serious rewrite of my first novel.

  25. I've been steadily collecting posts on revising/editing and here's a list if you are interested: http://margoberendsen.blogspot.com/p/most-worthy-posts.html#revision. But I think you are dead on about it taking multiple steps, or sometimes I think of it as layering: layering in more emotion, more sensory detail, more character quirk, more tension.

  26. Hi Friday, I think it's going to be revisions too. Lots of it. Thanks for the reference. I'll try to get my hands on the book ASAP.

    Thanks Marjorie! This isn't a first time that I've heard of Bird by Bird. REALLY have to get that book. Love the profile pic, btw.:-)

    Hart, I went for a read through too, in the end. And boy am I glad. I would have missed two major issues if I hadn't looked at the book as a whole.

    Hehehe Rebecca, I'll let you know how it works out for me, then. ;-)

    Shelly that's a great idea! I'll definitely keep it in mind for when I finish my edits. Because I know the -ly words and crutches will just come back if I edit them out now.

    Thanks Stephen!

    Connie, you're right. How else will I pick up on rhythms that are off? Thanks for the reminder!

    Heath I'm counting on it. Because right now the thought of deconstructing is a little scary.

    Thanks Golden!

    Jennifer the fact that everyone has a different method makes sense to me. After all, it's the case when we write. :-)

    Faith that sounds like an awesome course. Would love to go to something like that.

    Caitlin that's a great tip. I ended up staying away for an entire month to get some much-needed distance. I'm glad I decided to do that, otherwise I would have been useless by now.

    Thanks Laura! I really have to get that book...

    Hahaha Michael that's ok. I'm just glad to see you here. ;-)

    Pk I like the way you think. It never occurred to me to let it sit after I finished the edits. But it makes perfect sense to do that.

    Lynda that is vitally important. If something is structurally wrong, no ammount of pretty prose will hide the fault.

    Thanks Amy! Let me know and I'll let you Beta. :-)

    Rachna that's my idea. I want to make it shine before I send it out and not have to worry that it isn't right/ready yet.

    Hahaha Ciara I would have missed it too if my eye didn't fall on 198 a few days ago. I can't wait for you to read some more Doorways. Hopefully I'll have some revised chapters within the next couple of weeks.

    Angela they are. I'm so glad that I worked up the guts to send them some stuff.

    Jolene that's how I work too. First draft was my fly through. Rewrite added plot, tension and emotions. Now I have to get down with the rest of the stuff.

    Lucy that's pretty much how I want to do it. Three, four or even five times. ^_^

    Mary that is an excellent point. I'm definitely going to have to look into it.

    Margo I think of it as layering too! Thanks so much for the link! I'm going to go bookmark it now.


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