Friday, 4 March 2011

The editing maze

So there are cream cakes, chocolate cookies and crumbly shortbread. Sadly they're all still at the supermarket, really must go shopping! Decaf instant anyone?

I'm currently adrift in the ocean that is editing my novel. All structure and method seems to have been abandoned as I jump from sorting out plot holes, to cutting adverbs and trying to remove dodgy bits of hyperbole (see above). Discussions on editing seem to focus on the things you're trying to improve and remove, but not on how you go about it. Do you tend to comb your manuscript for one element at a time, or blitz a chapter for everything at once? I must confess the thought of reading the whole thing, only concentrating on culling those pesky ly's makes me want to reach for the gin...

So how do you approach your editing?

7 comments:

Cathy said...

I tend to go through the work three times. The first run is to look at story structure and plot/character consistency, the second for language and text layout, the third to pick up anything I've missed earlier!

Karen said...

I'm staying away from the shortbread anyway as I have toothache!

During my edit I read my work out loud - I find it's the best way to see what's working and what isn't, and I make changes as I go along.

Obviously the house has to be empty first, or I might get carted off :o)

Graeme K Talboys said...

My latest went through seventeen drafts. I tend not to worry about fine detail until the end. For me the important thing is getting the basic structure and story correct. That's usually done with quick read throughs and scribbling notes (of the 'why did she do this here?' variety, or the 'wtf does this mean?' variaty [lots of those]). Once I've answered those and rewritten, I tend to read through more slowly and keep reading through, making changes so that it reads smoothly. Then there are several out loud sessions. Karen is right in that it is by far the best way to spot repititious use of words, awkward phrasing, and so on. After that, it is a fine tune to see if there are not more economical ways of saying something.

Debs Carr said...

I read mine out loud and find that most mistakes are glaringly obvious that way. (She says hopefully).

Kate Lord Brown said...

It's amazing what you miss! Even after several edits, I had missed glaringly obvious things. Definitely can't edit on screen - print it out and as Debs says, read it aloud!

Jenny Beattie said...

Oh dear. Who knows what I do? I seem to have been doing it wrong mostly. Looking back I can see that I got engulfed in the fine detail before having sorted out the big stuff and that there was no point in polishing something I would later go on to cut out.

Safe to say then I've done it all wrong. Don't do it the way I've been doing it.

Captain Black said...

What's the point of coffee without caffeine?

My editing method is similar to the way a number of people here do it. It's a multi-pass technique where I try to focus on one aspect during each pass. It doesn't always work though, as I often can't resist "fixing" other things along the way.

I've tried the reading it out loud trick for dialogue, but perhaps I should extend that to the rest of the text.