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An editing question

Righmath

Minstrel
Hi All,

I've just joined these forums as I'm looking for a community to help get feedback from as well as offer my own advice. I wanted to see what style others adopt whilst writing in regards to your editing processes.

I've got a hefty amount of words written down for draft 0 and only about 60% of the way through. But my question for you is, when writing, how do you edit? Do you just keep pushing through until you reach the end, knowing that there are some substantial plot holes that you'll need to fill in later? Cities perhaps where you change location on a map to suit your storyline better which will need to be changed, or perhaps whole scenes from earlier chapters, which you know will not be happening in the final draft?

If, like me, you are leaving these for the next drafts, is that a wise way to write? For me I just think I would rather get it written or I'll spend forever editing. It would be good to hear your thoughts!
 

Penpilot

Staff
Article Team
If someone has trouble or has never finished a story, IMHO, it's better to push through to the end and fix on edit. I used to take notes on what needed fixing and then proceed as if I'd made the changes already. During the editing, I'd make passes over the manuscript, each looking for specific things and saving the rest for a different pass. Generally, I'd fix big picture plot things first, and then work my way down, lower and lower with each pass, to the minutia of word choice etc.

I don't have trouble finishing stories now, so if I'm confident that I definitely need to make a specific change, I don't have any qualms about going back to edit something before proceeding further.

I found the more stories I finish, the more I come to understand what I can and cannot do. So, to me, as long as I'm consistently finishing the stories I start, it doesn't matter if I edit as I go or not. At the end of the day it's about being able take a story from start to finish and not getting hung up on a certain step during the process, whether it's the endless world building or the eternal rewrite/edit. It's about learning how to make progress and know when something is done. What I mean by done is either I've taken the story as far as my skills will allow, or the story is now more perfect than perfect. Chef's kiss. I'd say for most it's the former rather than the latter.
 
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A. E. Lowan

Forum Mom
Leadership
^ This.

I also tend to edit as I go along, but I work with two partners. Once I type The End the manuscript gets passed to them, and they make edits, and then we discuss the story overall and whether or not we've missed anything or dropped anything or if anything else needs to be added. It goes to our alpha reader who laughs at me a lot and catches mistakes we missed. Then I get it back for changes and a couple of revisions/rewrites, and then my wife/writing partner gets it to herself and locks me out of the document while she does one final edit, an all-important read-aloud edit that takes a couple of days, and then she formats it for our beta team.

Everyone has their own process. Read a lot. Write a lot more. And eventually, you'll settle into your own process. Don't ever worry if you're doing it right or wrong. You do you.
 

skip.knox

toujours gai, archie
Moderator
There are layers to editing. It can range from ironing out inconsistencies to throwing out entire chapters and starting over. For myself, I tend to make a distinction between copyediting and revising, both of which I place under the general heading of editing. There also proofreading--spelling, grammar, punctuation, that sort of thing.

Some of this I'll fix as I go, if I notice it. Some of it I merely note, with comments in-line or separately. And some of it is rewriting whole paragraphs or whole chapters.

I echo the above: if this is the first novel, get all the way to the end, any way you can. Then come back and revise.
 

Mad Swede

Maester
I think the answer to your question is that it depends on your background as a writer, by which I mean both your professional/educational background and you as a person. Most authors seems to write a complete first draft, then either write a completely new draft or start editing the one they've just written. But there are exceptions to that.

The late Dick Francis was well-known for only ever writing one draft which then went directly to his publishers. That was because he was a former jockey turned journalist, and as a journalist he'd been taught to write good copy first time because newspaper publishing timescales don't allow for re-drafts and re-writes. In his autobiograhpy he admitted that when he started writing thrillers he had no idea that the book writing process was supposed to have several drafts, so he just wrote in the way he'd been taught as journalist and produced a good final draft first time.

I only ever write one draft which then goes to my editor. Thats because I'm severely dyslexic, so I find editing and re-drafting impossible to do - it takes me long enough to get the words down on the page. Please note that I don't write by the seat of my pants - I work the story out in my head, then write it down. It's the only way I as a dyslexic author can do it. I suppose you could call that mental process a form of editing, at least in the sense that I work out the plot in a series of mental iterations. I can generally picture the key scenes and the setting, so once I start typing away I'm just recording what I see in my head.

My only advice to you is to finish your first draft. Completing that is an important stage, it gives you the full story which you can then look at as a whole rather than a series of parts. That is, I think, when you'll see what needs fixing.
 

Righmath

Minstrel
The late Dick Francis was well-known for only ever writing one draft which then went directly to his publishers. That was because he was a former jockey turned journalist, and as a journalist he'd been taught to write good copy first time because newspaper publishing timescales don't allow for re-drafts and re-writes. In his autobiograhpy he admitted that when he started writing thrillers he had no idea that the book writing process was supposed to have several drafts, so he just wrote in the way he'd been taught as journalist and produced a good final draft first time.
This is really interesting! Thanks for sharing this, and thanks for everyone on sharing their own editing processes so far. I guess I just wanted confirmation that the way I was editing was not insane and completely reasonable!

I suppose some people's professions are writers/authors, so there is time to go through methodically and edit whilst writing. Where I do this in my spare time and it's probably more important to get this over the line, as many of you suggested I should!

The first edit will hopefully commence after the summer ;)

Thanks for the reassurance!
 

pmmg

Vala
Push through to the end is the only way to get there. Edit after. Dont even seek feedback till you get there.

One in hand is better than two in the bush.

Rewrites are for fixing.
 

Righmath

Minstrel
Push through to the end is the only way to get there. Edit after. Dont even seek feedback till you get there.

Agreed. I also find myself writing something rather elementary in sections of my writing, I usually just think 'just get this down, build on it later.' To avoid a writer's block and remain stuck there. Do you find you do the same also?
 
Everyone has their own process but, for myself, not editing as I write a first draft works much better.

In fact, it works best when I don't even read what I've written each day. Plenty of time for that once I've reached the finish line. Sometimes this means writing out multiple possibilities for a chapter or scene if something new comes to me in the moment and not worrying about which version is better etc.

For me, editing as I go is the harbinger of doom. I will endlessly rework, rewrite, re-plot etc and get nowhere. And yes, this means when I complete a first draft, there will be far more word count than I need and whole scenes, chapters and minor story lines may get left out in ensuing drafts. Still, it's better than spinning my wheels for a month or more going in circles. :)

Best of luck finding YOUR way through!!
 
Whatever gets you to the end.

Some people edit as they go, and others edit at the end, and every other option you can think of. One thing to note is that many people who claim to only do 1 draft often do edit or write multiple drafts, they just call them something different. Yes, some people really only do 1, just look at Mad Swede, but most 1 drafters write very extensive outlines, to the point where it's almost draft 1, and they often revise what they wrote yesterday before writing new material. It's a different process, but I still could that as multiple drafts / edits.

As for myself, I write to the end without stopping and only then revise. I keep notes, both in the text and in a separate file, about what needs changing (and where). When I've finished my first draft I then go back and change what needs changing. Biggest change I've done in this way was change the race of my protagonist (and his entire nation) from dwarf to human about halfway through a novel. I simply made a note in the text "He's human now" and kept writing, pretending he had always been human.
 

Righmath

Minstrel
I simply made a note in the text "He's human now" and kept writing, pretending he had always been human.

I love this, I'm taking this on board. I feel that I'd rather insert some notes when I'm not feeling totally descriptive or am getting slightly lethargic and I really want to progress to a certain scene.

However, I totally foresee myself doing the above and cursing my past self :LOL: Great advice, thank you.
 

Righmath

Minstrel
I am the constant tinkerer/editor. If I know something is off I don't wait to go back and fix it, write another scene, whatever.

Tinkers are great and unique! Especially in the eyes of TNOTW. I feel like my personality may be too jittery to edit extensively as I go. Paragraphs? Sure. But not once I've made a major change like Prince of Spires mentions above ;)
 
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