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Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Better Than Before?

More Coffee Required - Maria A Smith

Stick your hand up if you love editing? Slashing text, rearranging words and sentences, moving paragraphs, killing off characters and in some cases, telling a very different story to the one you started out with?

Some of us can't help it, we don't know when enough is enough, always telling ourselves that if we tweak this and that, it'll do the story justice. I'm not bad these days, I don't edit as I write anymore. There was a time when I'd write a paragraph and then go back and mess with it, change words for ones that fitted better. Add a comma. Remove a comma. You know what I mean. Over time, I learnt to keep writing, after all, its a first draft! I could return after I'd spewed the story out onto the page, I could tinker with it later.

Most of us, drive ourselves crazy editing. What is your editing process?

Do you put your work aside for a week after you've finished? Or maybe you need longer?

On screen editing or a print out of your manuscript?

Red pen or cut and paste?

What about spelling and grammar?

Do you read it aloud to yourself, or anyone else?

Give it to beta readers?

I let my novel rest for a while (probably for too long) then read it  through chapter by chapter, and then edited on the screen. Next I read it into a voice recorder, and listened back. Unfortunately, at that stage I realised it needed a lot of rewriting.

Short stories I find much easier to edit, and usually start shortly after I've finished the story. On screen first, then I print a copy out and get to work with my red pen.  

Please share your tricks and tips on  the editing process.

9 comments:

  1. Great post, Maria. I love the editing part once the hard work of writing the story is finished! I try to get most of the novel written before I start tinkering with it, unless something is going wrong half way through. I usually edit on screen but sometimes print it off near the end. I don't use beta readers at all so far - I just make it the best I can before sending it to the publisher and then I enjoy working with their editor.

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    1. I haven't used beta readers yet, but I have been one for someone, and it was an invaluable experience. They gave me a list of what they wanted from my reading their novel, and that made it so much easier.

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  2. Hi Maria

    I usually write a couple of pages, re-read them and tweak a few words. By the end of a chapter I've usually read it ten times! I just can't help myself. My fiction group at my writing club is also a great help. (Not the writing group where I first saw you.) Each month we critique each other's chapters and that helps with editing. When I've finished a book I'll print it and go through it with a red pen. For the past 3 years I've sent my manuscripts off to the Romantic Novelists' Association's New Writers' Scheme for critiquing. They're very thorough and pick up on everything I've overlooked.
    Good luck with your writing.
    Ange xx

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    1. I've heard the RNA are very good Ange - wishing you lots of luck with your novel. :-)

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  3. Funny, I've just said to someone: 'The trouble with being an editor is that I don't know when to stop tinkering when I'm in writer mode.'

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    1. Yes, I could see that being a problem... :-)

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  4. Good post Maria. I do all of the first five points. There is always a temptation to keep fiddling with the manuscript, which is OK providing a line is drawn at some point. The danger is overdoing it and ending up with something which has lost its texture and zip. Interesting that Stephen King finishes a project, files it away for 3 months and moves on. Only then does he return to the work.

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    1. Stephen King, what a fabulous writer, and I know we both share a love of his book, 'On Writing' which I've got as an audio book too now. But, did you know he is to publish a book of short stories later this year and it will also be a book for writers. Apparently, they'll be a tips on writing too. That is what I've heard anyway. So let us hope to see it in print soon. Here is a link I found,

      http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/mar/18/stephen-king-writing-insights-bazaar-of-bad-dreams

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  5. I do like editing. Not the later read throughs for punctuation and stuff, but the second draft where a mess od words starts to look like a story.

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I really appreciate you taking the time to leave me a comment, and I try to reply to every one. Many thanks!