follow a rookie writing his first novel

Ways of editing

This week I have become fascinated by the various ways people say that they edit their work. I know, a bit presumptuous you say, given that I’m only 20.000 words into my novel. With about 60,000 to go, received wisdom says that I needn’t trouble my poor ageing brain with the problem of second drafting for at least, oh I don’t know, at this rate, a couple of years.

But, I came across something where the writer claims to do the editing as they go along; paragraph by paragraph. Heresy! But they have written several books and had them published, so whatever they are doing is clearly working for them.

Looking a little further, I then saw that some people need to actually add words to the second draft, rather than the commonly held opinion that a machete needs to be taken to the first draft (or at least pruning shears) because we always start off by adding extraneous detail that ought not to be there.

This actually resonates with me because looking over what I have written so far it does lack some detail as I fill in the plot scenes. I suspect that my second draft will add more than it subtracts. I wonder if this is a common problem with plotters and perhaps it is only pantsers who need the ‘edged weapons’. What do you think?

Another approach seems to be a combination, based more around time than progress, in that they spend their most creative part of the day getting words down, and the less creative editing what they have written; the writing always pulling ahead of the editing.

So, I am becoming convinced that there must be nearly as many ways to arrive at the second draft as there are writers. How do you get there?



Single Post Navigation

6 thoughts on “Ways of editing

  1. I’m working on a memoir and am in my lat stage drafting phase. It’s true, there are a thousand ways to edit. I find I hit my creative streak early, then go back and spend time (later) in editing land where I usually play with structure and form. The last editing I do, with help, is copy editing (which isn’t a gift of mine). So there are several, several drafts from start to finish. Ugh! A ton of work. But I hope to get my memoir published, so it should be worth it. Thanks,


  2. I write serially, so my process usually doesn’t much resemble anybody else’s. I publish as I write, so each section gets reviewed and polished (and sometimes torn apart and rebuilt) before it’s posted, but then it’s set and I move on (I will always go back to fix typos, but that’s about it). So, I don’t ever have a “first draft” or a “second draft.”

    I’m thinking of making my mystery stories into an e-book, so I’ve gone through a process of beta readers and revisions, but the changes have almost all been in the category of “polishing” (improving flow, fixing word choice and punctuation, etc.). No major surgery, with one exception. One minor character in one story freaked out some of my beta readers, distracting them from the actual story, so I did some fairly major surgery to remove her. The lesson I took from that experience was that she doesn’t work as a minor character. She really needs her own story.

    The other aspect of the e-book process is that online the stories can be read separately, so when a character from an earlier story appears again I sometimes put in an explanation of who this is. An e-book would be read in sequence, so the reintroduction isn’t really necessary.

  3. eclecticpills on said:

    I have nothing published, but I’m on my third unfinished novel. (You may want to delete this comment then.) One reason for that is I’ve tried to follow too many opinions when it comes to the creative process of novel writing. Editing included. The greatest advice I can give a writer (learn from my mistakes!): do what works for you. As you mentioned, there are plotters and pantsers—for a reason. We’re all different. If you’re editing at the 20k mark, that’s fine, if it doesn’t slow you down too much. Gone are my days of self-editing as I write. My current novel I spit out on page within six months because I didn’t stop to slow down and see what I wrote (and edit it). I wrote 60k words in six months, but now is the hard part. I’m slashing and burning my story like it’s virgin rainforest. Painful at times, but rewarding too because I get to see all that I’ve accomplished with a first draft. (There is something remarkable about “finishing” a first draft. Quite the confidence booster.) I’ve eliminated a LOT of my original flourish, and much of what I put on paper will not make it to the final draft. And that’s okay. Keep on writing! As some say, writing is easy; it’s the re-writing that’s hard.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: