Thursday, June 13, 2013

Perils of the Writer: The Editing Process

After taking a couple weeks away from Way of the Shield, it's time to dive into the editing process. 

For me, the first step in editing a rough draft is that time away.  One friend of mine said, "Forty days and forty nights."  I think that's a bit much, especially if one is under a deadline.* But you need to freshen your eyes on the project.  So, step away, read something completely different, cleanse the palate.  I took two weeks, which is plenty.

Also during this time: get other eyes on it.  Preferably someone who isn't going to just be all gushy and, "Oh, you wrote a book, wonderful!"  You need someone who will throw a critical eye on it, but also not just be mean.  Critiquing is an art, telling the writer what they need to hear without drowning their baby.  Though some baby killing will come into it.  But good, reliable beta-readers are like gold, and you should treasure them if you find them.

Next for me: change the font you wrote in, and print a hard copy.  This gives you a editing/reading experience that is an utterly different from the writing experience.  You'd be amazed how much that makes those little mistakes pop out.  So many tense/typo/spelling problems show themselves in reading through the hard copy.  The other big thing to do at this stage is figure out when I've tangled up my phrasings, using twenty words when fifteen would do.  I go through with a red pen** and mark the manuscript all to hell.   Here's where I figure out my chapter breaks.  I never do that in the actual writing.  I'm not sure why, it just doesn't feel organic at that stage.

Then next, I go back to Scrivener, and implement the red-pen changes, as well as any new changes I've worked out on going through it there.  That usually catches everything.  I also add any new scenes or tweak existing scenes, based on the notes I get from my beta.

In theory, that's when it's time to send to the agent.  Then he'll usually have notes for another go-round.

And so, time to get to it.  See you all Monday.
*- I'm not technically under a deadline for Way of the Shield, but by my own standards it's overdue.  Sometimes the only way to get a project done is to behave as if it is under deadline.
**- Actually, it's purple, but the principle is the same.

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