Writing

The dreaded editing process

Chapter one

Writing a story is the fun part.

If I have a story idea, it burns a hole in my head until I can get it out. Fingers connect to keyboard and the circuit is complete to let those words flow through.

Then I get to the end and congratulate myself on a job well done.

Except it isn’t done.

I’ve really only just started.

Next comes the dreaded editing.

The editing process is where you find out if what you’ve written is any good.

All that time you spent sitting at your desk/in a coffee shop/in the car, tapping away at the keys, creating your masterpiece. In your head, everything works, sub-plots connect and the characters are alive and kicking. It’s not until you re-read it in the cold light of day that you really see your creation for what it is. Not that I’m saying it will be rubbish, there will be strokes of genius in there, but at the same time, there will be work to do.

The first step in the editing process, for me, is to read through the manuscript to check for basic errors such as spelling, grammar and sense. Once that’s all sorted, I start again, this time looking to cut or add, flesh things out, re-write.

After that, I read the whole thing out loud. I’m lucky in that I write children’s stories and I have two willing listeners. Reading aloud helps to check if what you’ve written actually makes sense and flows. If it works, my listeners will also understand, get the characters, picture the scenes etc. My nine year old daughter is exceptionally critical and if she doesn’t understand something, she will say so!

There’s only so much editing you can do before you start to go a bit stir crazy.

How many times can you look at the same story and spot a flaw? It becomes impossible to see after so many views, so you need to take a break from it.

Leave it alone for a week or so, then read again with a pair of fresh eyes. This time, I check how well developed my characters are, look for signs of telling rather than showing and for any plot weaknesses. Then I just can’t do any more by myself and it will be time to hand it over to the editor.

By this time, I will sigh with relief that at last I can unburden some of the responsibility. My editor will no doubt pick up things I missed, some obvious, others not so and this process is invaluable. It also means that whilst the manuscript is out of my hands, I can park that story and get on with the next project.

At the moment, I have just finished the first stages of editing a draft of a middle grade story. This will hopefully become my second book, the first of which is on route to publication. I’m at the stage of reading it to my critics and already I’ve spotted things that need to be added and improved. I’m very excited about this story though. It came together well and I have four characters, who all have a story to tell, so that means there will be another three books to add to this series.

Ideas for the next one are already brewing.

How do you edit your work?

Sharing this for What I’m Writing.

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18 thoughts on “The dreaded editing process

  1. Haha! I think you might find my post really useful honey, as I talk about having a manuscript critique, and how invaluable the feedback was. I don’t think it’s possible to do all the editing ourselves, and our beta readers (unless they also happen to be professional editors) aren’t in a position to tell us what we need to hear… good luck with it all. I know what you mean about a story burning a hole in your head, I’m exactly the same xx #whatimwriting

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  2. i totally agree that the writing is the fun part and editing… well it can drive you a bit round the bend! I went over my picture book manuscripts repeatedly till I couldn’t make them any better, then sent them off to be critiqued, then made changes after feedback then left them for months then came back and re-edited. They’re definitely ready to be sent out to lots of agents and that’s a time-consuming process in itself! Sounds like you’re on track and it’s great that you’ve got more books at different stages of the pipeline! Thanks for linking to #whatImwriting xxx

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  3. So apparently I’m a freak. I like the editing best. Although I can drive myself nuts in an impossible quest for perfection.
    I find getting a first rough draft down on paper excruciating. I know it’s going to be crap and my brain fights me every step of the way. It can be fun when I manage to turn off my inner critic.

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  4. I find editing just as much of a rollercoaster as the writing itself… Hellishly difficult at points and exciting at others! It’s definitely way harder than I ever gave it credit for though – and very tough to keep going on without professional input… I’m hoping my agent’s going to come back with some good pointers for me before I start the whole editing process again with novel number three! xx

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  5. I actually like editing. It means I’ve got the story written down. There is no more “what if I don’t finish”. At worst I can say ‘done’ and walk away lol.
    That said, I spend a long time on the editing. I’ve use two editors and have also used Cornerstones consultancy in the past.
    Good luck.
    #WhatImWriting

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  6. Interesting to hear how different we writers are. I find getting stuff down on paper in the first place excruciating, but I love tinkering around and playing with words that are already there. Good luck and be kind to yourself. At least you know you can do it! You’ve done it before! #whatimwriting

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