Posted in Writing, writing advice

Writing Methods: Revision

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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]

Posted in Writing, writing advice

Five Truths of Editing Fiction No One Tells You

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This is my latest on Coffee House Writers. You can find the full article here.

Five Truths of Editing Fiction No One Tells You

I’ve been chronicling my experience with editing here at Coffee House Writers with some of my past articles. “Starting Over: Mirroring Kristin Cashore’s Writing of Bitterblue” was about how rewriting the whole story was my original plan. “An Editing Process for Pantsers” mentioned a very analytical way of evaluating each scene and figuring out whether it was worth keeping.

I have been indecisive about how to edit, to say the least. This is, in part, because of the editing everyone talks about versus what it will actually look like.

We need an honest conversation about what the editing process entails.

When someone says the word “editing,” what do you see? A red pen fixing punctuation errors, awkward wording and grammar? That’s what I imagined. I didn’t realize one of the biggest secrets of editing: editing is, at its heart, rewriting.

Because of the common misconceptions about writing, I decided to list out the truths of editing. I stumbled across these through editing my novel.

Truth #1: Editing is Rewriting

In truth, everything after the first draft is editing. You must rewrite scenes, add scenes, delete scenes, and everything in between to get to the polished-draft phase. Everything you write after the first completed draft is editing, even if you are writing a completely new sequence of scenes for the first half of your book.

Truth #2: You Will Cut 90 Percent Of Your First Draft

I wrote 61,000 words for my first draft. The first 42,000 words will be completely rewritten. Some of the later scenes [Read More]

Posted in Writing, writing advice

An Editing Process for Pantsers

Editing Process
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This is another article that I wrote for Coffee House Writers. You can find the full article with this link. I hope you find this helpful!

An Editing Process for Pantsers

The 18th of July was the one-month anniversary of finishing my first full-length novel. You may have seen my article “Starting Over: Mirroring Kristin Cashore’s Process Of Writing Bitterblue,” published earlier this month about the process I was planning on using to edit the novel.

Well, plans have changed. I admit I’ve never edited a longer piece of writing before. The editing process is a bit of a mystery to me.

I have read lots of articles about how to approach editing, but few seemed to lend themselves to the way my brain works. Being a panster, a term for someone who doesn’t plot or plan before writing, means a lot of methods for editing aren’t aimed towards your process. Plus, a lot of these methods didn’t tell me how to approach each step. They just gave a basic rundown of the process involved without going into detail.

I ended up cobbling several methods together to get what I think I need for this specific project. I have a general idea of what it needs to improve.

What methods did I choose to include in the editing process?

First off, I wanted to read through and separate the scenes. I placed a hashtag between each of the scenes. Then, I filled out an index card with a couple of questions. These questions were:

  • Who is in the scene? I wrote down the names of each character that makes an appearance. I made a note if they only appear for a portion or leave in the middle of the scene.
  • What happens? I made a short synopsis of the events in the scene.
  • When does it happen? This has three parts to it.
    • I included the day number during the timeline of the novel (Day 1, Day 2, etc.,).
    • The time of day the scene happens (early morning, morning, early afternoon, afternoon, evening, night, late night,).
    • And the day of the week (Sunday, Monday, etc.).
  • What is the POV Character’s Goal? What are they trying to accomplish? Do they [Read More]

Posted in Writing, writing advice

Starting Over: Mirroring Kristin Cashore’s Process of Writing “Bitterblue”

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I am a fan of the “Graceling Realm Series” by Kristin Cashore. In the back of the third and final book, “Bitterblue,” I found a mention of the blog post that detailed how she ended up restarting the writing process for that book all over again.

Imagine having written seven notebooks, all filled with the first draft, the equivalent of 800 pages of a typed manuscript only to be told to “start over” by your editor. Infuriating right?

Well, Cashore agreed with her editor after some thought. And when she sat down to write it, she wrote a much better, more concise manuscript.

Of course, in order to get the motivation to write, she had to trick her brain. She had to use tricks to tell herself she was writing a brand-new book. She had to use other tricks to show herself she was making progress and not just floundering.

I recently went through a similar experience. Although I wrote nowhere near 800 plus pages of a manuscript (more like 200 pages and 61,000 words), I felt overwhelmed with the prospect of editing the novel I had written.

It is the longest manuscript I have written to date, and the whole vision of it changed around 40,000 words in. Not to mention that 90 percent of the plot points happen in the last 20,000 words.

Simply put, [Read More]