Hello, people! =) I'm here on the topic of revision and editing today!
So, first things first: Revision and editing are time-consuming. And while that is a bit obvious, it isn't always perfectly clear why. But this is why.
Everyone revises and edits in a different way.When editing, you have to find your own groove! You have to find what works for you, and sometimes that takes a long time. (Who am I kidding, it always does.) So don't get overwhelmed by the prospect! =) View the process as one of discovery and not one of wandering into a danger-fraught unknown.
With that said, I suppose I shall begin telling you what works for me. And who knows? Perhaps some of the things that I do will help you as well, and then you'll be that much closer to being comfortable with your revision and editing style.
- Let the finished product age. Like expensive cheese, your book needs to sit for a while before it's ready. After you finish the first draft, it's a good idea to let it stay in a corner by itself for a couple of months. (I have found that, with myself, if I don't do this I grow to hate the story, and then my quality of writing goes down the drain faster than a greasy bobby pin.)
- Set it in your head when you return to your book that you are there to tear the story limb-from-limb. You are not going over it to smooth its feathers. The first stage of revising generally is a hacking, messy business that involves lots of coffee and crying. (True story.)
- Read the manuscript. Mmm. Yes. As a generally rule, after setting steps 1 and 2 into motion, I pick up the manuscript and read it. I read it slowly, and try to think about every sentence that I come across. If something that I read doesn't make sense, I'll write down a suggestion for rearranging it. Misspelled word? Formatting error? (OCD...) Yep. Write it down, and come back to it. You're in reader/editor mode, no need to stop to rewrite the thing.
- Read it again. After reading it once and looking for things to fix and such, (and hopefully writing a list of plot changes to consider,) go back and read it again. And maybe ten more times after that. Keep suggesting changes on little things, keep finding misspelled words, inconsistencies, etc.
- Get down to business. Now! Dust off your keyboards and go back to fix all of the things that you've written down to change. Move paragraphs, cut chapters, kill characters... (That last one is optional.) And hopefully it will be as freeing an experience for you as it is for me. =)
- Two words. Line edits. After getting all of the big changes done, go back and check the flow of all of your wording, consistency of detail, and consistency in the characters' personalities. Again, if you find something that you want to change, write it down for the next round.
- Repeat steps 3-6 as many times as necessary. I usually go through that process about three or four times before I give it over to beta readers, and then they do the same thing. Read. Suggest edits. The only differences are, a) They have different brains and eyes than I do, and b) They're a lot more helpful to developing my story than I am. My thoughts down flow as clearly outside of prose. And those people are superheros with capes and red pens. Their suggestions are always helpful to me. =) So that leads us to the last step:
- Fix it until it's as close to how you imagine it being as possible. Read your manuscript. Cry over your manuscript. Let other people read your manuscript. Repeat. (?)
- Go write another story, and change the world. (Whoa. That escalated quickly.)
Seriously, though, guys! =) Write stories. Be painfully honest with your writing. The raw thoughts of human beings are what change the way the rest of the world views existence.
I hope that you've found this article helpful! =) And thank you so much, Katie, for suggesting the topic! =)
Sometime else and somewhere else,