Welcome back. I hope you all had a lovely Valentine’s Day. Let’s briefly revisit editing.
In a past blog, I discussed my 10-step self-editing practice. Many questions followed that blog, most of which had something to do with a professional editor vs. self-editing. To be clear, after I complete my self-editing, I then turn to a professional editor. I have also discussed these questions with a dear friend, a fellow author (Bristlecone Magic), and master editor, Dennis De Rose. (Find Dennis De Rose @ Moneysaver Editing on Linked In or here for reviews and more!)
In this blog, I will share Dennis’s thoughts and comments on two of your questions. And allow him to add anything he thinks you ought to know.
Below Dennis’s comments, I have attached my Craft Talk on self-editing as a refresher.
Question One: “I find myself editing as I write. The result is often a lot of time spent on Chapters One to Five and less time on later chapters (I start to feel rushed). [Nick’s] 10-step self-editing sounds like I should not do that? The problem is as I write, I keep thinking about what I’ve written and considering changes that might affect later chapters. What do you suggest?”
Dennis’s Response: No two writers use the same process when they write. Some prefer to outline their chapters first. Others put thoughts on paper and expand on them later. We are alike in many ways. I edit as I write, but it doesn’t detract from my writing because I cannot take my editing hat off; it is a part of who I am. That’s my way of saying I see nothing wrong with the way you write. Every writer makes changes, and that is as it should be. If it feels right, go with it. If it sounds right, it is right.
Question Two: “If I want to hire a professional editor, at what point should I do that (first draft, second, after I, like [Nick], do a complete self-editing of my manuscript?”
Dennis’s Response: Too many writers rush the process, even seasoned wordsmiths. I believe the slow turtle wins the race in the publishing biz (many would disagree). All too often, a writer will go with the first editor and publisher he or she discovers on the internet, big mistake. But to answer the question, only choose an editor after you are 100% certain you have done your best to make your writing shine like a new penny. 1) Have you gone over your manuscript many times, reading each word out loud? 2) Have you read what you wrote as a reader and as an editor? 3) Do you have a group of beta readers that have read what you’ve written word for word and given you feedback? 4) Has your manuscript been reviewed by one or more professional reviewers to see if anything needs work? Proceed with caution and only after completing these steps.
Nick’s Craft Talk: A 10-Step Plan for Self-editing
- Review opening and closing lines for each scene. Why did you stop the scene with that line? Why did you start the new scene with that line? Always asking, “Why do I (the reader) want to go on?”
- Eliminate (unless included for a good reason) passive voice.
- Get out of the way of the action. For example, don’t say, “Angelo, felt his stomach drop as he realized he left his knife at home.” Instead, say, “Angelo’s stomach dropped. His knife was home.”
- Review for story and plot—does it hold together? Does this scene move the story along?
- Make a list of the promises you made and the foreshadowing, and edit to ensure that you have kept your promises and fulfilled the foreshadowing.
- Edit for repetition. Search for repeated statements, descriptions, and words. Search for your most often used words.
- Eliminate as many adverbs (especially “very”) as possible.
- Do a surgical edit. Reduce the word count. Don’t kill your darlings but do imprison them in another file on your computer or folder.
- Have someone (or the computer) read your story out loud.
- Finally, and only if you’re like me, consider a final professional line edit. I can’t do that myself, I tend to read past mistakes, but maybe you can.
If you’re looking for support groups for writers, I highly recommend the Wisconsin Writers Association. Go to: https://wiwrite.org/
Thank you for hanging with me. Keep writing, and please stay brilliant, healthy, and hopeful, Nick