As many of you know I am in the midst of editing and revising two projects. Yes, I’m mad! The first is the prequel to my fantasy series, Malgraf’s Dawning. It is currently being beta-read and revisions are coming back to me chapter by chapter. The other is a western romance manuscript, Willow Tree Tears, that until recently, had languished in my ‘to do’ folder for quite some time.
As authors and writers, we have to refine, revise and rewrite our manuscripts to ensure they are ready to submit. As we all know though, some will slip through the cracks – we have all read books and noticed slip-ups in every book we read. So let’s look at the editing process:
Editing encompasses several elements in order to achieve a well-polished manuscript for submission. Editing includes among other things, continuity, grammar, spelling, character development, revisions to scenes etc. the list is long and sometimes overwhelming.
Where should you start?
Instead of plunging directly back into a first draft, let it sit for a while. Start another project, take a rest, whatever you need to tear yourself away from the world and the characters you created. Ideally, leave it for three to six months, depending on any deadlines you have, of course. This will allow you to ‘see; it with fresh eyes.
When you go back to re-read there will be new insights. Rather than overwhelming yourself with trying to ‘correct’ all the editing elements mentioned above, concentrate on one item at a time.
Limit each read through to a specific task.
When you have completed these tasks let either trusted friends, or members of your local writing group read it. Take note of their suggestions and correct any errors they may find. Remember, no matter how many times you or your beta readers go through a manuscript, there will always be a word missed, mis-spelt, or a continuity slip up. Once this is done it is time to consider handing over the manuscript to a professional. A professional editor is a good investment, if you can afford one. A badly edited book reflects on you the author and no-one else.
Here are a couple of tricks that can help you edit more effectively:
- Read the book from back to front page by page. This stops your brain putting in words that are not there.
- Read it out aloud to yourself or an understanding friend. A missed word is very obvious with this technique.
- Go through the manuscript correcting one area at a time, instead of everything, which can become overwhelming. Such as spelling, or continuity.
When editing there may be sentences, or even whole paragraphs, that you know need to be revised, or even omitted from the manuscript to help with the flow of the story line, or scene. Deleting these can be hard. There are different opinions on what to do with these revisions, but I think they should be saved in a separate document until you are absolutely sure you do want to delete them and even then you may keep them as a record of how the scene developed. A writer’s jetsam so to speak. These ejected words from our narratives may dwell in our hard drives or document folders for months, sometimes years. They may even be useful if at some point in the future you decide to use them in a sequel!
Without correcting and improving, our creations will not be polished and worthy of reading and that is the one thing we all want – our work to be read and enjoyed.
What is your editing process like?