Monday 27 April 2020

How I Edit - The After Process


I've made no secret of the fact that I find editing and revisions really hard. It's something that wears me down, pings my stress levels and just makes me want to stop writing. Of course I say that, but I know that it wouldn't actually do that, I also know that it's a very necessary part of the editing process and not something I have ever skipped. Whether it's my self-edit, betas, or the many steps of editors, I always make sure to go through every step and take a little cheer when each one is finished.

I've talked about my editing team (piece found here) but I thought I would touch on how I approach editing as a whole. I'm going to be talking about both the revision process and the editing process, which, for me at least, are a little different. When I'm talking about revision, I'm not thinking of it being a final draft, I'm reading through it, strengthening sentences, rewriting bits and pieces, and leaving some of it alone to think about how to better execute the impact I want that scene to have. When I talked about editing, I mean the professional process (bar the one final read through of my self-edit) and how I make changes to the document meaning for it to be one of the final steps.

To begin with, I'll read through the manuscript and I'll both make notes in a journal, and also in the document about things that I want to fix. Either scenes that need strengthening, character arcs that are in place but not up to scratch, sub-plots that need to be weaved through, any foreshadowing and other such things that I know need work. I'll write in brackets in places where I know I'm not happy with the scene or chapter itself and plan to overhaul the whole thing.


This is when I make the changes. Either I'm going through chapter by chapter, or note by note. I'll deal with the big plot things first, and leave the little stuff for the next stage. I made sure that I have time to both rewrite, and to read, without distractions. This usually takes me the longest because I am constantly coming back to the same scenes and rewording, rewriting them after some time away. I try to go through it in order first before going back over it again chapter by chapter, and then see about how the story reads.


The small changes come now, this is when I'll look at word choices, adverbs and all that, I'll look at repeated phrases, crutch words that I know from previous edits, I lean on. Like for Dying Thoughts, I would cut down on the tea Tara drank, and with other books it's been things like 'just' and 'a little' and such like that. I go through each instance and make sure that I can justify every one if need be.

The final read through of the book. I will usually be on draft five or six by this point, having gone over and over it several times. Sometimes I'll let an app read it out to me since I feel subconscious reading to myself, and this is a great way to pick up anything that doesn't sound right, or is an outright mistake. I have the app on my tablet, and will usually do a couple of chapter a day, more if I have time.



This is after the revisions, after reading through it, which would be my self-edit, the first of many. Once I'm sure that the book is as good as I can make it, then I go to beta readers. I usually have around ten in a round, and I send out the book in chunks. This is usually when I go through another couple or more drafts, making changes here and there and making sure that everything is still as clean as I can make it. Once I'm done with betas, when their feedback is mostly positive, or things that I can't or won't change, I call it finished.

The developmental edit is the next step. You all know I work with Kim, and she and I go over the book chapter by chapter most days for the next three months, and hone everything to the point where I'm happy with it.

I'm gonna combine the line edits (done by B) and the proof-reading (done by Natalie) because at this point, there really aren't many changes to the book. It's been worked on over and over, I know the story backwards and forwards, and I know the weak areas if any remain. Generally speaking, by the time it gets to this stage, I'm very happy with it, and am ready to move on to the final stage.

The final read through. This is something I do, making no changes because the proof-reader has come in at this point, and make sure there's nothing missed. If something does need changing (which is super super rare) then I'll be careful how I go about it. That done, and the book is ready to be published.

So there we have it, the way I approach revision and editing and all the steps I go through in the process. It's something that's worked for me for a long time, and I find that I've honed my skills enough to be happy with how things work. I have recently started doing the revision stages earlier but that's simply a personal choice to give myself, and my team more time to work.

How do you approach editing and revision? Lemme know in the comments!

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