E is for... Editing

I edit by on hard copy too!
(Image by WokinghamLibraries on Pixabay)

Writing is one thing... editing is a whole heap of different! My writing buddy, Stuart, asked me a while back what my 'work-flow' was, from initial ideas for a book to finished product. I'd not really thought about it, but I threw some notes together and realised that I spend at least as much time editing a book as I did writing it.

I find it hard to do. I'm too close to things and I just don't see them. I do my best to sort out major issues and be generally happy with something, before I send it out to beta readers. I could possibly save myself some time and send it out in a rougher state, but I'm too proud to do that!

For my first edit, I convert it from Scrivener to Kindle (this usually involves swearing a lot and cursing of Scrivener for having such a poor PC version) and do a straight read-through on Kindle, notebook at my side. I highlight typos/weird bits/etc. and jot notes as to why they’re highlighted but otherwise I just read straight through. Why on Kindle? I don’t know. It’s easier and more portable, but I’m also more critical – as if I’m reading a real book. Anyway, it works for me. The first edit is mostly a structural edit. Where feels slow? Where is it confusing? What feels unnecessary? What feels too thin? Incorrect timings (How is she getting a 12-week scan if they only got together four weeks ago?) General feelings about it; broad brush strokes. I try and fix those first.

A second edit focuses on character (in the hope that plot is mostly sorted by now!). Are the characters consistent? I read all their speech out loud. Where are contractions missing (I tend to not use contractions when first writing and have to sort them afterwards)? Do they have consistent speech patterns? Do they have consistent mannerisms? Are their mannerisms different from the other characters? Are they always doing the same thing so that it’s gone beyond a mannerism and become annoying? (the answer is usually yes...)

Third edit: Spit and polish time. This is a really tedious and slow edit. I go through a print-out, line by line. Unnecessary adjectives and adverbs get cut. Descriptions get sharpened. ‘Spice’ gets added. Is there a colour associated with a character? If so, use that colour in the scenes which feature that character (kind of a cinematography feel) etc.

Then it goes off to beta readers before getting a fourth edit from me, based on their feedback.

Then off to a professional editor before getting a fifth and final (hopefully!) edit.


Is this overkill? Am I being too much of a perfectionist? What do others do? Drop me a line in the comments.

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