Editing is a word I hate. I’m one of those people that always wants to be on to a new project. Bigger, better, and newer. Realistically, nothing I write is publishable after only the first draft, and this is true for most people.
Perhaps part of my dread of editing is that I’ve read very little advice on how to go about doing it. I try to write what I write as best as I can the first time, but then what? But it’s something I have to learn to do, so I am forcing myself to learn. Here are three of my approaches, and some links to some sights that have more experience than I do.
1. Maybe leave that small error in there on the first draft, if you are debating it. It helps you get through the writing faster the first time. I find it helpful to have a toe-hold of some error you know you want to fix, and then move into the manuscript from there. I sometimes feel the urge to make the first draft as perfect as possible, but I think for me, it’s actually better to leave it rough. This also makes it easier to take a machete to it where needed, since there’s less sense of loss.
2. Leave it the hell alone after the first draft. This is two-part in motivation. One, I love it too much initially, and it guts me to rip it apart immediately. And two, I’m more likely to overlook awkward phrasings or logical leaps if it’s still too fresh in my mind. For both parts, it needs some time to gain some other-ness.
3. Work top to bottom. Does the character change behavior inexplicably? Is there a beginning, middle, and end? Big, basic stuff. Then I think about things like pacing, and then about specific sentences.
Some links that helped me think about my approach to editing:
- Eight tips for self-editing
- Ten editing tips
- An interview with an editor about weaknesses in manuscript
So happy editing? It’s a miserable process for me, but it makes the fun bits worthwhile. In every worthy endeavor, there are parts that are inevitably less than thrilling, but we keep going. I welcome any suggestions from others, too, since I am learning always.