Reading through my manuscript is slow going. I sit with a pack of post-it notes and a pen and make notes every other paragraph. Things such as: ‘research this’, ‘develop character’, ‘backstory too early’ or ‘unnecessary/repetitive’. The one thing I am noticing, however, is that – for the most part – it’s well put together. There are a few things I’m considering taking out but nothing, as yet, that would cause major restructuring problems. Perhaps these will come later, when I’m trying to tie up all the ends of the story.
Having honest feedback from beta readers has been especially helpful. One of the really great things is that neither of them have come back with comments that I am surprised by. Most of what they highlight are areas that I have been concerned about myself, and so the information is easy to accept and include into my editing process.
My editing process: the sentence above makes it seem like I am confident and clear about what this process actually is. When, in reality, I feel a little like I’m fumbling in the dark trying to find a light switch in a property I am already familiar with. In all honesty, I have no idea what I’m doing. On the plus side, that means I am open to any number of different techniques and approaches that have been shared by other, more experienced, writers. On the other hand though, it also means I don’t know which out of the many advised suggestions will work for me the best. So, I suspect, this will very much be a haggard, steep learning curve.
Novel Boot Camp by Ellen Brock
This month long online (and FREE) boot camp was hosted by Ellen in July 2014. During the month she supported online participation in workshops and posted a total of 19 online ‘lectures’ that focused on polishing your novel to prepare for the querying stage. Although the workshops are no longer active, there is some excellent advice in the lecture series that include those first page promises, saggy middles right through to identifying your genre.
The Editing Checklist by Carson Craig
A great resource to plan out and follow for those wanting clear and yet flexible steps to review your work. It helps to know what a beat sheet is, as it’s one of the first steps to make changes via this method – there’s a great explanation by Writers in the Storm here.
What is Structural Editing by Jodi Cleghorn
This is a great explanation for one of the first major aspects of reviewing your manuscript by examining the big picture stuff (rather than the smaller issues, like word placement). It’s a reference list of questions to be asking yourself as you read through your WIP to make sure that you’ve covered all the bases before you start on the nitty gritty. No point in polishing a scene to perfection if it’s going to be cut from the final product: right?
20 Editing tips for writers by Meg Cowley
A quick run down of all the essentials that makes up an exhaustive list that is well worth following. She asks some of the key questions you need to keep in mind for editing, some of which are often easy to overlook if you are concentrating on the manuscript as a whole.
Nuts and Bolts: “Thought” Verbs by Chuck Palahniuk
While this offering deals with the ‘small stuff’ of sentences it’s this kind of advice that ensures you DO ‘sweat the small stuff’ and makes sure your writing is the best it can be. Once the plot and characters are in place and fixed this is when the advice that Chuck suggests you will hate him for really matters. Significant if you want your writing to have impact.
So, these are my go-to guides to help me through the editing process: what are yours?
Let me know in the comments below, or Tweet Me.
P.S. My first ever competition winning piece is now online here – at only 700 words, it doesn’t take long to read; but hopefully the story will stay with you for a while 😉