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My (Revised) Editing Routine

A Writer's Musings

Over the last few months I’ve put a lot of thought into how I want to approach my next edit. Things went well enough when I edited Rise of the Sparrows, but I knew it was going to be tight, and while I met my self-imposed deadlines I was also exhausted by the end! Ever heard of writers burning out? I’d rather avoid that. I hear it’s not pleasant.

With Relics of Ar’Zac #2 now left to proof, I’ve put together a revised editing routine. I learned a lot from my first edit, and this time I wanted to go in with a real plan I could stick to.

Edit 0.5: I’ll go over every chapter, briefly, and will summarise each in one, no more than two, simple sentences, so I’ll have a list where I can see at one glance how my book progresses. I’ll also add notes of where I might add chapters, or how I could move some.

Edit 1: I’ll correct spelling mistakes, and will scan my draft for words I know I overuse, like window (don’t ask me to explain, I’ve got nothing). The first merciless cuts will happen here, too.

Edit 2: This will be the biggest of them all! I’ll read through the entire draft, and will make the first changes as I go. I’ll also make a note of the bigger changes which will take longer to apply, and of other chapters I could add. I’m hoping that this will make what’s to come a little less painful, but who knows? This is only the second draft of a battle plan, after all!

Edit 2.5: I’ll add all my new chapters.

At this point, I’ll leave it to proof again. Some big changes will have been made by this point, and I want to make sure that I distance myself again (as much as is possible, anyway) before I begin the next edit.

I don’t know yet how long I’ll leave it for. No less than two weeks, but probably not another full month.

My editing essentials – the current RoAZ notebook, highlighters, sticky notes, my trusted red pen, and tea!

Edit 3: I’ll print everything out – if you’ve been here for a while you might remember that this was my first step with Rise of the Sparrows – and will go over everything with a red pen. This took a while when I edited Rise of the Sparrows, but I’m hoping that my previous edits will make this step a little more effective this time. Once I’ve gone over everything on paper, I’ll move it from Scrivener to Open Office (I’m dreading the transition already) and apply the changes in my document.

Next – you’ve guessed it – I’ll leave it to proof again. Not for long this time, just a week or two.

Edit 4: I’ll read over everything again, from the beginning (my prediction is that I’ll get sick of seeing it at this point), and will repeat as necessary. I’ll likely also change the font and background colour since that gave me a new perspective last time, and helped me see my draft differently.

With sentences I’m really not sure about, I’ll isolate them to stare at them on their own. I find when I share tweets for #1lineWed, or when I share small excerpts here, I suddenly see everything I need changed, so I hope this will help me fix more persistent buggers. In fact, I might just pretend with every chapter that I’m about to share it! You can’t argue with results, right? Right.

Edit 5: Betas to the rescue!

Edit 6: Off to my editor!

It’s going to be a lengthy process, but I hope that this will result in a tighter draft for my betas, and overall a better finished product.

As I go and make changes, I’ll also adjust the chapter summary list I mentioned in step 0.5 so that it stays accurate throughout.

How do you edit? Do you have a plan that works well for you, or are you a pantser when it comes to your editing? Are there any methods that have proved invaluable to you? Get a tea, treat yourself to a cookie, and let’s chat!


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  1. Your plans and routines leave me in awe. I’m a lot more slap dash than that, but I do lots of redrafts, write comments for myself, keep notes, and then do my line edits etc. I have my betas ready and a proof reader. It seems to work for me.

    By the way, I have big stationery envy!!!

    • I’m amazed that you’ve got your betas ready already! Now who’s well organised?

      I can’t remember where I bought my stationery – if it’s not from Paperchase it could be from anywhere – but it’s my editing pride and joy ^-^

      • I have been proactive on that front 😉 I have five betas ready and waiting which is a relief.

        I need to check out Paperchase!

        • I’m surprised you haven’t been to Paperchase before, it’s a haven for all things stationery and my happy place!

          • The nearest store to me is in Plymouth- 50+ miles away 🙁 I shall have to shop online.

  2. This sounds great. The putting a sentence or passage online thing.. it’s totally different, but I’ve realised I only notice mistakes on my drawings, when I’ve photographed and put them online. Not sure, must be a different environment thing or something. So it’s kinda great to know it works with written work as well.

    Looking forward to book 2. Good luck with the editing! 🙂

    • Maybe looking at your drawings on the screen brings out the flaws more? I’m glad to hear it works well for you 🙂

      Thank you! 🙂

      • Um, don’t think that’s the case, it’s only a 15 inch laptop screen I’m looking at stuff 😀 But I think maybe it creates an illusion of distance? And from distance one can see the whole picture a bit better than close up.
        But that’s why I find it fascinating that it somehow also works with written work.

  3. You sound very organized and ready to go with Plan A. 🙂

    Generally I like to type my drafts double spaced, so there’s plenty of room for notes/editing later. Then I print out a copy and go to work with a pen or marker. Most of the time, that results in catching careless mistakes (wrong character’s name, or spelled a location incorrectly, etc.). At the moment, since my current WIP is on its sixth or so draft, I feel I know the material well enough to not need another print out before the final copy I’ll be taking to the printers’.

    Hope it all goes well for you!

    • I always have a plan 😛
      It sounds like your own edits are progressing very well! Good luck with the printers, I hope things continue to go well 🙂

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