Editing: Round One Complete

I did it! I read through all 138 pages of my printed manuscript, 52,968 words, and absolutely destroyed them with a red pen. It looks a little like this:

Now, I can begin Round Two, where I’ll integrate all those comments into the computer file. In some places, I’ve actually written out all the changes needed in a scene, and it will be a simple matter of transcribing those notes onto the computer in their proper place. In other places, though, I’ve circled things and squiggled lines and written notes like, “Sloppy!” “Fix this!” and “Clarify!” In these places, Editing Round Two will be a much more involved process, where I’ll have to actually go in and fix all those things. I do plan to fix as much as I can this next time around, and I plan to keep a comprehensive list of anything I skip over. I anticipate that Round Three will entail forcing myself to tackle everything on that list, and then maybe—maybe—I’ll be ready to turn the manuscript over to some outside parties for further advice.

Wanna know what three things I found myself writing in the margins the most during Round One? Here you go:

More DRAMA! This is for moments where something goes down that is fairly important to the story, but, rather than showcasing the event or detail, my prose glosses over it too quickly. One doesn’t want one’s novel to be over-dramatic, of course, but you still want to draw attention to the right things, and use exciting prose to do so.

More Space! Leftenant Weatherby told me the story felt a bit rushed back in May, and I wasn’t certain I believed him; it’s a YA novel, after all. Fast-paced is good! Reading through this time, however, I think I knew what he meant. In my writing, I have a tendency to move on to the next thing without a proper lead-in or introduction, making the action feel stilted and too soon. “More space” means I need to take more physical space on the page to get there, and use description or character interaction to create a more believable illusion of the passage of time.

Tighten! This means the prose is sloppy. It’s mostly good, it mostly says the right things, it’s mostly doing what it needs to, but it needs to be gone over with a fine-toothed comb and tightened up until it sounds professional, and until it shines.

_____

Thank you, readers, for sticking with me this far. I’m really excited for the next part of the process, and I hope you’ll read along to see how it goes. Oh, and don’t forget to check out the Wanderlust Facebook Page if you haven’t already. I’ve started to post a few extras over there that might not necessarily show up on the blog.

When you’re editing your work, what three things do you have to tell yourself the most?

-G

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10 Comments

  1. Your process sounds very similar to mine! I usually write “fix this!” all over the place and hope that I remember what I was thinking when I’m actually sitting in front of my computer. Good luck with the editing stage!

    Reply
    • Thank you, and thanks for commenting! Now we’ll see if I have what it takes to actually fix all the “fix this”es. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Whitney Rains

     /  September 8, 2012

    I’m definitely looking back and having to put more space into some of my key scenes. In my head everything is just as it should be, so it’s weird to read over things and realized I’ve skipped over a few very important details. Happy editing!!!

    Reply
    • Yeah, as the writer it’s easy to assume the readers somehow know all the extra details we’re carrying around in our heads. Thanks for reading, and for following. 🙂

      Reply
  3. Shawn

     /  September 9, 2012

    Oh my. It looks beautiful! Sure, sure. Most people would say it looks like a mess. Those people usually aren’t writers. But to writers, we know that this sloppy-looking stage is in fact a step closer to the pristine finish that we all hope to achieve.

    So congratulations and good luck!

    Reply
    • Thanks, Shawn! I think all that red ink is pretty lovely myself, and I’m kind of sad to have to go back to the computer for the next stage of edits.

      Reply
  4. Right now, looking down at a draft of a piece for the Salisbury Review, I am thinking:

    1. Less gravity, more levity.
    2. This is the twenty-first century, not the eighteenth, so no pseduo-Gibbonisms.
    3. WWJED? (What Would Joseph Epstein Do?)

    Re: fiction, I would say one should try to avoid picking up the bad habits of one’s favorite novelists: e.g., if you are an Updike fan, don’t use words like “disphoretic,” “laterite,” and “xerophytic”; if you like Harry Potter, don’t write that x character “stretched his legs” when you mean “walked.”

    Reply
    • Thanks for commenting, Matthew. Not picking up the bad habits of a favorite author is good advice. What we love most about an author is often their bad habits, but these are things it is impossible to imitate, and any attempt to do so sounds insincere. I, for instance, adore Lovecraft’s overwrought sentences, but I should never ever try to write like that for my own stories. :-p

      Reply
  5. Matthew

     /  September 13, 2012

    Right now, looking down at a draft of a piece for the Salisbury Review, I am thinking:

    1. Less gravity, more levity.
    2. This is the twenty-first century, not the eighteenth, so no pseudo-Gibbonisms.
    3. WWJED? (What Would Joseph Epstein Do?)

    Re: fiction, I would say that one should try to avoiding picking up the bad habits of one’s favorite novelists: e.g., if you are an Updike fan, don’t use words like “disphoretic,” “laterite,” and “xerophytic”; if you like Harry Potter, don’t write that a character “stretched his legs” when you mean “walked.”

    Reply
  1. Let’s Stop Writing Lazy « Grace Makley

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