Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Editing Process

Back at the end of NaNoWriMo, I promised that in the future, I would do a series of posts on editing.  Now obviously, not everyone works at the same pace, nor do we all approach editing in the same manner. 

For instance, I usually wait a few weeks before I tackle editing the first draft of any project.  I need time for the story to gel, and I also need time for my brain to forget its closeness to the project.  I need space for objectivity.  The amount of time, as I said, is usually a few weeks, but sometimes it's shorter.  I jumped back into 2009's NaNo project within a couple weeks, and this time around it worked for me.  In the past, I've taken months to get back to a project, because I just wasn't feeling it.

When I do get back to a given project, my approach varies.  In the past, I've printed the entire manuscript and attack the pages with a red pen.  I've also done part of it on paper and part on the screen.  And, of course, there've been a few times where I did the whole editing process from my keyboard.  This time around, I'm mixing things up.  I started the edits on DLN pretty much like every other project I've ever worked on - sit down, read through, edit as I go, and make notes on those things I might need to revamp.  Then I hit the roadblock of knowing I needed to change the POV. 

Here is where my old approach was hindering my new progress.  Sure, I could just go through changing all the 'she' words to 'I' words, but there was so much more involved.  Now I'm working my way slowly through the book - chapter by chapter - and changing things as they need to be changed.  The problem here is I know there are huge holes in the plot structure, and I feel the urge to change everything all at once. 

I'm resisting that urge at this time.  Right now, I know if I let myself get distracting from the main purpose of this draft - which is changing POVs - I'll never get it done.  This means there'll definitely be a third draft and probably a fourth or a fifth - depending on how each subsequent edit goes. 

I guess what I'm saying is that I need to define the purpose of each draft and make sure I'm accomplishing that goal before I move on - as such:

Draft 1 = complete book from pg1 to THE END
Draft 2 = change POV from 3rd to 1st
Draft 3 = fix plot holes
Draft 4 = polish and send to readers
Draft 5 (or final draft) = fix anything the readers may have pointed out and proof one last time.
Repeat 3-5 as needed for subsequent drafts.

(Heh, they don't tell you when you start this thing that writing the first draft is most often the easy part.)

Most people won't have the second step in this process.  Hell, this is the first time I've had that step.  How often does a writer change POVs after the first draft is written??  But still, I'm betting that most of you go through some kind of process like the one above.  Lather, rinse, repeat... tear hair out...

If you did NaNo, have you started editing your project yet?  How's it going?  Does your editing process look anything like the above, or do you have a different way of tackling editing?

Speaking of which, I have a couple more chapters I want to get through before I call it a morning.  Wish me luck.  =o)


  1. I've also changed the POV from one draft to the other on one of my books, so know how that feels :)

    I haven't looked at my NaNo book again, and knowing how grim the first draft was, I doubt I will do so for a while.

    Best of luck with the editing.

  2. Mine basically goes:

    1. Write the book.
    2. Print out, read through, make edits.
    3. Type edits in.
    4. Send to readers.
    5. Make changes based on input.
    6. Done.

  3. -raises hand and waves it around-

    I'll read it! I'll read it! I'll read it!

    When you're done, of course... =P