My editing process
Inspired by a post on Paper Fury, I wanted to talk about my own editing process too. First of all, I hate editing. I don’t mind when I’m in that final stage and all that is left is editing some typos and checking spelling/grammar and maybe change a sentence here and there. But in the first phase of editing, when I have to rewrite whole chunks of dialogue, delete or rearrange chapters (and in one case had to destroy an entire plotline), then I’m generally grumpy and moody. I dread that task sooooooo much.
It doesn’t help either that I know that, once I finish editing, the book will be ready for betareaders and that people will actually read it. Yikes.
So here are my editing steps.
1. Open up a new document, paste the book into it, and call it “draft 2”.
I can’t work anymore in the document I wrote draft1 in. From the moment I put “the end” on that, I’ll never touch that document again (except to copy/paste it into draft 2). In case something goes wrong with draft 2, I can still fall back upon draft 1, or if I change something and end up not liking it, draft 1 can remind me how I did it in the first place.
2. Format the document.
It’s time to go pro. My second step is to format the document. I actually like doing this (which is insane, I know), but the tidier the manuscript looks, the tidier I believe it is. Which is of course one big fat lie, but hey, if it helps, it helps.
3. Setting goals
I’m an overachiever. I have about 30 items on my to do list every day and when I don’t meet at least 90% of those, I turn into a crying, sobbing mess. All right, not a crying, sobbing mess, but let’s say I’m not an enjoyable person to be around then. So I set a goal for the manuscript. A lot of that depends on how much editing the manuscript will need.
This August, I planned to rewrite/edit “Allegro Academy”, the first book in my Allegro Academy series, which I wrote two years ago. The manuscript needs work. A lot of work. My writing wasn’t up to the level it is now, and the story itself has some plot issues too. So for a book that requires a rewrite, my goal is one chapter a day. That usually ends up being 2-3k words, especially in my older works when I didn’t realize yet that ‘less is more’, so it does take a fair amount of time.
My recent manuscripts are usually a lot cleaner. I had to edit “Demonic Pact”, and edited about five chapters a day, each chapter being between 1-3k words. But that manuscript didn’t require rewrites. It was in good shape already.
So based on what the manuscript needs, I set my goals in my writing calendar.
4. Keep track of details in the manuscript
In the first draft, I don’t care a lot about details. It’s morning, four hours passed and suddenly it’s evening? I don’t care. The main character’s eyes turn from green to blue? I don’t care. Bad boy has black hair in one chapter, dark brown in the next? Nope, I don’t care either.
The first draft is all about story, about getting it out there. The second draft is about details.
When editing, I open up a new document and keep track of details there. Whenever I come across a detail like eye color, hair color, date of birth, and so on, I note it in the ‘notes’ document (yep, I actually label it ManuscriptName_Notes, in an effort to look more professional). So that when I come across the detail again, I can easily check it with the notes and I don’t have to search the document again.
5. Once it’s done, I send it out to betas
Right away. Seriously. The moment I hit the final chapter, write “the end” again and save it, I send it off to betareaders right away. Because if I procastinate, then I might get second thoughts, might want to edit something again and all that isn’t good for me. The moment my betas have it, it’s in their hands.
Then I start working on another book until they get back to me, because else I turn into a nervous, nail-biting wreck.
And there you go, my editing process. I celebrate making it to the end with cookies, chocolate, ice cream and everything else delicious.