Tuesday, July 5, 2011

My Editing Process

I just finished the first draft of my current novel. When more seasoned authors get to that point, they might feel close to the finish line. They may have only a few minor touch ups before they are ready to begin submitting to publishers, editors, agents, etc. I, on the other hand, have only begun the process from first draft to finished product.

Here’s the layout of the process I use to turn that first draft into a finished novel. Maybe some of these ideas may assist you in the editing stage as well.

1) and 2) Hard Copy Edit:
This is the stage I am in now. The first thing I do is print a hard copy of my novel, and make notes of major problems, such as; inconsistent characters, scenes that need additions, scenes that need to be shortened, name or nickname changes, spiritual thread, consistent dialogue and the list goes on. I might go through my hard copy a second time just to make sure I caught everything. The second time, I am more precise and might add description, inner monologue, etc.

3) Computer Additions:
With my hard copy in hand, I input hard copy changes into my computer draft. This is also the step where I do major scene rewrites, and scene changes. I tend toward writing longer section rewrites best on the computer. By the end of this step, I usually have something that resembles a finished product scene by scene.

4) Line Editing:
I do this on the computer as well. I toy with phrases, change words to make them more historically accurate, delete clich├ęs and passive verbs, and on and on.

5) Grammar Editing:
Now, I’ll go through with the eyes of an English teacher. Checking punctuation, capitalization, and catching more passive verbs. This also gives me a chance to read the novel from start to finish, and make any final pressing changes that still don’t seem quite right.

6) Critique Partners:
Sometimes my critique partners get a few chapters before I get to this step. However, ideally I would send them the chapters after I went through all the previous steps. When I receive their critiques, I’ll make changes accordingly. Having critique partners is a very crucial aspect of the editing process. There is just no way I can see all the flaws in my own novel. I am just to close to the work itself. Plus, having critique partners gives a writer a chance to see how their novel appeals to readers.

By the time I’ve went through these steps I can usually recite the novel almost word for word and quote from it randomly. I’m also ready to move onto something else. My characters have taken me “over the river and through the woods” and I know them intimately. But the vast difference from first draft to final product, is HUGE. While it is a lot of work, it’s well worth the time and effort. Without this process, I wouldn’t even consider submitting to agents and editors.

Editing something as large as a novel can be similar to a potter working with a lump of clay. After hours of shaping and turning the wheel, the finished product emerges into a form all its own.

Happy Writing!

Your Turn? How do you edit/ revise? It is it something you enjoy? I appreciate the tips!

No comments :