As I sit here editing my latest novel, I’m thrilled to see the word count growing.
But that usually happens because I tend to write my first drafts short–skeletal, if you will. I get written short scenes and press through toward the end of the story. When I finish, I go back and I fill in any glaring holes.
I go through several different edits. But typically, during these edits, I like to:
- Concentrate on characterization and deepening the character’s purposes within each scene–during this edit I ask myself, “Would my character really say, think, or do this?” I ask why is my character acting a certain way and are her actions justified by previously-given information.
- Strengthen words, descriptions and scene-setting in order to deepen metaphor and characterization–I love this step because now I get to dig into some fun writing concepts and play around with my thesaurus. You will find most of your word-count-growth during this phase of editing. But try not to get too flowery. I think we writers have a tendency to over-water our flowers. 🙂
- Correct timing issues–this is a biggy and after I’ve re-ordered, added and deleted chapters, I inevitably have created a host of timing problems. The best way to get rid of timing issues is to start at Chapter One and drill it down until you’ve reached the final chapter of your book.
- Check facts and build plausibility when straying from a norm–I like to read my work aloud, a chapter at a time, to my husband, Bob. His take on things is much more practical than mine. If you don’t have someone to read your work aloud to, you can do a couple of things: get involved in a writing group, find 3 to 5 readers to get feedback from, or let an editor find these mistakes for you. But Bob does a great job spotting these problems for me and, no, you can’t borrow him.
- Fix errors in grammar and in sentence structure–I love this step because this step makes me rethink the way sentences initially come out of my brain and onto the page. It’s fun to reorder (and even reword) a sentence three or four times. You’ll see that when you do, precision will overtake your sentences and become more focused.
- Search for typos and misspelled words–this step is perhaps the easiest because all you have to do is to use Word (for PC) or Pages (if you have a Mac). Each application has a spell-check/grammar-checker and can find such errors from two spaces after a period to a broken sentence. You can also check for redundant words and phrases and, of course, spelling errors and misused words and punctuations.
And, yet, all of these editing methods will never catch all of your editing mistakes. They never will and expecting them to will make you crazy.
The only way to guarantee reducing editing errors to nearly nil is to hire an independent editor. So, if you’re at that point in your writing when you want to hire someone, I’ve included a list of editors who I have either heard are qualified or who I have worked with myself.
- Emily Reed, Eagle Eye Editing, http://eagleeyeediting.com/,
- Jim Thomsen, http://jimthomseneditor.com/,
- Jodie Renner, http://www.jodierennerediting.com/
- Renni Browne, The Editorial Department, http://editorialdepartment.com/
Here are also a few online lists where you might find a good independent editor for your fiction:
Here are, yet, two awesome books on editing for you: