Editing Process

Editing can feel like this huge overwhelming sized thing. Especially if you’re looking at editing something the size of a novel, it can seem very much like looking up a mountain knowing that you are about to climb it. 

But if you were about to climb a mountain, you’d have the right gear with you, right? The same thing is true with editing, by using the right gear or process, you can make it to the top and (maybe) have fun along the way. I actually enjoy editing most of the time, but only if I’ve got the tools in place to make it work for me. 

So how do I make editing work for me? 

1.     Make a plan.

I read over the whole manuscript and keep a document ready to take notes on the things that need to change. That includes character names not being the same the whole manuscript, a plot hole, a pacing problem, a scene I want to change, etc. I list it all out with page number references so that I have a record of everything. 

2.     Group. 

Next I take my group of notes and organize them by topic or change. If I need to change character Bill to a character named Sue then that is one theme or section. I group them by topic and then by order. if I need to change a major plot thread, that’s one of the first things I do.

3.     Attack. 

I start with the biggest changes and then work my way smaller. I used to go through the document chronologically, start at the beginning and go to the end, but I would quickly get lost in what change I needed to make. By focusing on just one major theme at a time, I know that I can work it through all the way and not lose my train of thought. 

That’s my three-prong method for working through an edit. The third step is repeated until I have finished everything I had on my notes page. It usually takes a few passes but when I’m done, I do one last read over everything and that pass is when I deal with the more grammar related things. 

As with everything else, this is the method I use and it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. I really encourage you to play around with systems and processes to see what connects with you!