Guest Post: A Trying Time – The Editing Process

Andrew ClawsonHello lovelies! (Sorry, I’ve really been into British TV series lately)  Andrew Clawson is back on my blog.  I interviewed him last year, and now, he’s sharing a little about the editing process, which I loathe! Maybe I should take some advice from Mr. Clawson! 

Welcome back and congratulations on your new release, The Crowns Vengeance!! crowns vengeance

First of all I’d like to thank Emerald for allowing me to share her blog today. I wanted to discuss one of the less glamorous aspects of writing, an area that is crucial to crafting a successful novel, but is utterly devoid of anything remotely resembling “fun” (unless you’re into this kind of thing, then more power to you). We’re going to talk about editing.

Now, this will be my take on the process. I have two novels published, am currently editing a third, and have been seriously at this whole writing thing for about 2 years now. As such, just remember this is one authors take on editing. Your experiences may be different (for your sake, I hope so), and if you find that something different works best for you, by all means, do it. What follows is the method I’ve found to be most productive with my personal schedule and style.

First step; finish manuscript. Once you type those last words, wrap up the story with such grace and style that readers can’t help but shout your praises to the heavens, you can sit back and wait for the royalty checks to start rolling in, right? That’s what I thought. Turns out that first draft is probably chock-full of misspellings, devoid of continuity, crammed with extraneous adverbs, and pretty much stinks. At least if you’re still early in your career, I’d be willing to bet that’s not far from the truth. So how do you make it better? Well, that’s a question I struggled with for a long time.
The first thing I do after finishing a rough draft is to put it aside for one week minimum. If you have the resolve to stay away for longer, do it. Taking a few weeks off will let you escape from the clutches of this monster you’ve spent countless hours crafting, and give you a chance to breathe. Once you’ve cleared your mind sufficiently (I use the time away to either start my next project or work on promoting prior works), I’ll pull the manuscript out and read through it like a reader. If anything sticks out, such as chapters that don’t flow very well, or sentences and words that don’t need to be there, I cut it. Most of the editing I do at this stage is slicing and dicing. Paring your novel down to the bare bones, keeping only what really makes it hum. After that, I send it to my first group of beta readers. These are people I trust, people who aren’t afraid to tell me if something is putrid.

The first group gets a hard copy of my document on 8×11 paper, spiral bound, and I encourage them to write all over the words, indicating what they like, but more importantly, what they don’t. Once I receive these dog-eared and dissected papers, I go through and compare notes. If I like a suggestion, it stays. If I notice that multiple readers have pointed at the same spots, it’s probably in need of revision. However, you have to remember that this is your book. If you absolutely, positively cannot bear to part with that line of dialogue, leave it in there. Take suggestions, maybe even directions, but don’t take yourself out of the book.

Next step, re-write and send to a second, more select group of readers. These are 3 people that I trust completely, who I’ve known for a long time and who love to read and write. They will rip my work apart, but it always comes out better for it in the long run. Same process as before, review their notes and incorporate when fit. After this revision, the book is usually pretty close to finished. I’ll send this newly revised document to a proofreader, who goes through it with a fine-toothed comb, picking up on inconsistencies and improper grammar that I’ve missed at least 3 times (and believe me, she finds a whole lot to change). Once I receive her revisions, I’ll incorporate these changes into the document and review it one final time. Normally by this point I’m so sick of reading the same words over and over that I want to light the damn thing on fire, but I’ll inevitably find a few parts that I want to change.

Once that 3rd personal edit is finished, it’s publication time. Finally, I can get rid of this albatross of a novel and share it with the world. And I can do so knowing that I did everything in my power to insure that the book is as well-written as it can be, and I’m not scared to let the world have a peek.

Final step. Take a night off and have a drink or three. You deserve it.

10 thoughts on “Guest Post: A Trying Time – The Editing Process

  1. Editing, revising, proofing and doing it over and over is horrible but necessary. Sending your manuscript out twice to two different groups of readers is a good idea.

    Like

  2. Pingback: The light turns green with Andrew Clawson (Interview & a recipe)

  3. Pingback: The light turns green with Andrew Clawson (Interview & a recipe) | Cabin Goddess

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