Part of of the Writing Methods Series. Previous articles in this series:
Part One – Planning Process
Part Two – Environment and Rituals
Part Three – Approaches to the First Draft
Part Four –Different Types of Editors
Editing can be the bane of a writer’s existence. It doesn’t matter if your writing style is structured or unstructured or if your strength is content or copy editing. Knowing which editing approach works best with your writing style and strength lessens the inevitable pain of editing your work.
Want to further improve your impact? Walk away. Give yourself time and space away from your work. This improves your objectivity.
Your strengths also dictate what you do. If you have an eye for content editing concerns, then you could start editing your draft by yourself and know what it needs. If copy edits are more your area of expertize, send it to some friends you trust with an eye for content or join a critique group to learn what your manuscript could use some work on.
You can edit as you go, reading through what you wrote the day before and perfecting it, or you can edit once you have the entire rough draft written.
As an unstructured writer, your needs are different from a structured writer. Let’s compare your needs and editing strengths to improve your revision process.
Lack of Structure and Copy Editing Strength
Editing requires structure. Read your draft from beginning to the end, taking notes of anything you could improve upon, like description, setting, character development, relationship development, plot, etc. While listing your desired changes, also document your timeline for each scene. An outline helps you feel less overwhelmed.
The outline could be on Post-its, index cards, a word document, in a notebook, or a storyboard. The best method is the one that allows you to see the bigger picture and make changes easily.
Once you have a rough outline, look through your novel again. Look for plot holes, structure, grammar, issues, and other story killers. Part of being a writer is killing your darlings. Keep a file of scenes you have cut for possible reuse elsewhere.
Go through each scene and figure out what your character’s goal is. Are the goal, motivation, and conflict clear in each scene? If not, make it clearer.
If you truly have no idea what to fix, join a critique group with other writers. Ask them to help you or hire a content editor to help tame your manuscript. Have friends or family beta read and give you feedback.
Fix the outline first, then the manuscript. Once you are… [Read More]