Monday 1 October 2018

Editing As You Go - The After Process


I've not done a piece on this before and I thought that it might be a good one to do because I get a lot of questions about it and I know other authors and writers who do the same and also get asked about it a lot. I, personally, will edit as I write. I do not recommend this for a newbie writer because it's something that can lead to you getting stuck in this never-ending cycle of chasing the perfect first chapter, which FYI, isn't gonna happen.

However, I do know that some writers find that they want to produce as clean as first draft as possible, and part of that is learning how to edit as you go. Personally, I've always needed to look back at the last chapter (or two) to remember where I am in the story and the general feeling of the plot, pacing and all the rest. I know a lot of people will say to just open up a document and write, and if you're doing it regularly, then yeah that works, but for a long time in my early career, I was writing on the odd day here and there and I needed to familiarise myself with everything before I dove back in.

This won't work for everyone and that's more than okay, but when I got to a point where I felt like I knew what I was looking for, I started to edit as I went. Some writers can do this from their first manuscript, but it's rare and it's okay to not be one of those. When I read through the previous chapter now to get ready to start writing, I check for this like awkward sentences, that the pacing is okay, whether there's some grammar issues and plot issues and all the like. It means that when I finish the first draft, it's had a bit more drafting to it than one of my earlier works.

So how do you know if you're able to do this? I thought of a few pointers to look for and decided to share them. As I said above, not everyone can do it, and that's cool and completely fine. I wasn't able to for a huge chunk of my career and it's not a bad thing to need to draft completely before going back to start your second draft and such. So keep that in mind and here we go!


If this is something you find yourself able to do, then it might be possible that you're able to edit as you go. If you're someone who can't do this, then it's probably better to keep moving forward and leave the edits to when everything is wrapped up.


I ask this because if you have a better idea of where the ending is going to land, then editing as you go is something you might be able to do. I added planster because I'm that and I don't always know what the end scene is going to be like. Because of that I can't always predict where things will go and what might need to be taken out. Now if you plan and have a major outline, then you can see further ahead and with that knowledge you'll be able to tell which scenes work and which don't. I always advise that you don't edit the work the same day you wrote it. Sleep on it, and then come back to it the next day or next time to write to see how it looks.


I know this sounds like it's very similar to question two, and in a way it is, but I know that with some books, even if I don't have a big idea of where I'm going, I *do* know the ending. In all of my crime books, bar one, I always knew where I was leading to, who the killer was and how to get there. I say bar one because there was one where a new suspect popped up and I didn't have the first clue they'd be there, which made editing as I went impossible. But if you are someone who knows where the ending will be, then maybe you can try editing as you go and decide which clues to drop where and when.

Now as I've said, it's not for everyone and it's also not something I recommend a completely new writer do, but if you think it's something you can do without getting stuck in that circle of perfect hell, then give it a go. You might find it does work for you or you might not, and both of those are completely okay. If you have any tips you want to add, lemme know in the comments!

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