Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Indie Life - It's All About The Editing

I'm very excited to be part of The Indelibles Indie Life series. These posts run on the second Wednesday of every month and include ideas and articles from a wide variety of indie authors. Check out the links below to learn more about INDIE LIFE.

When people say editing, I know many writers who groan. I used to be one of them, but the more projects I work on...the more books I write, I realize that I actually love editing. It's now become my favourite phase.

Maybe it's because I've learned to refine the process, to figure out a way that works well for me. I thought I'd share the way I work in the hopes of helping some and maybe getting tips and advice from others.

Okay - so I suffer from First Draft Blues Syndrome. When I'm writing my first draft, it sucks. My book is crap. No one will like it. However, once it's done, once I can step back and take a breath, I start to see that there is potential in my work.

A few months ago, I read a really excellent book written by Rachel Aaron.
2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love. The reason I loved it so much is because she works in a very similar way to me. We both thoroughly plan, then write, then edit. Our processes are efficient. One tip I picked up from her that I found so spectacular was the idea of Story Mapping.

Once my first draft is down, I go through the manuscript - just skimming - and jot down what's happening in each chapter. Just bullet points. I then add any notes. For example in Ch 1 of my current project, I've noted down that I need to make the mother's reaction stronger to the situation she finds her daughter in. Chapter 2, I've made the comment that the guy the MC has a crush on drives a Jeep not a car and that I need to ask my California friends for a specific location to set the next scene in. Further down in the story I need to add a scene and I've also figured out that shifting one scene from Ch 13 down to Ch 17 will have a bigger impact and show my character's growth in a more realistic way.

Tomorrow I am going to start going through each chapter and following through on my notes. Once that's done, I will do a full read through to check on flow before sending it off to my 5 critique readers who will tell me what works and what doesn't. 

Once I get their feedback, I go through with my rewrites and changes then start the tweaking edits. You know the read through where you refine your writing, changing little words here and there for greater impact. One thing I'm planning on doing this time as well, is reading through Self-Editing For Fiction Writers by Browne and King. I've read it a couple of times already. I have a paperback copy that is looking well loved. It's so brilliant and I want to have it fresh in my brain before I tackle my book for the tweaking round. 

Once I've finished that, I will then send it on to my copy editor. A professional who will hopefully find very little wrong with the manuscript :D

So what's your editing process like? 
How do you go about making your manuscript worthy of reading?


  1. I write by the seat of my pants and so I worry about that first draft. Like you, I fear it sucks. I have since made friends with the editing process because I can see and celebrate what I did right and make better what I didn't. By the third run-through I'm usually satisfied.

  2. I see my first draft as the start of the story - what needs to be polished off to make it better. I like to leave my story for a rest for a month because then I come back to it with fresh eyes.
    Thank you for the book recommendations - I have purchased the Self Editing for Writers, and eagerly await its arrival.