Editing and Editing and Editing

One of the things I was really proud of over the past year is how I was able to write faster. It was freeing and it was fun. I learned to turn off my inner editor. I also stopped rereading what I had written the previous day because it stopped my progress.

But now I’m here, in the editing phase. Not quite editing hell, but it’s certainly lasting longer than I thought it would. Ah, yes, another instance of me being a Silly Writer. So much to learn!

So, yes, stating the obvious: when you don’t edit as you go, you edit later. That’s ultimately going to be a good thing since I can only edit something that’s, you know, written. But I also plot (a bit) as I go, so I’ve been contending with those issues too. Still, for me, I’d rather have a completed first draft than be stuck at 60% and slogging my way through to the end. That’s just me, whatever gets it done for you is grand.

I’m trying to learn as I go and leave the draft better with each pass. Sigh. Not quite my former perfectionism rearing its head, but something kinda close. I gave the draft some time to breathe, setting it aside. Life was busy and I wanted to gain perspective. I’ve sent almost 100 pages to my lovely CPs and they provided super helpful suggestions. And then my goal was to look at the big picture first: the story edits. Yay?

I read Goal, Motivation, and Conflict and LOVED, LOVED, LOVED it. Super helpful and Dixon even includes notes on writing romance, which I appreciate. So, I worked out my GMC for my main characters and my antagonists. Woo! Good big picture progress.

Now, I’m going through those early pages again, mostly doing line editing, but also checking for story cohesiveness. I’m also adjusting/fixing POV issues. (Side note: yesterday I had a panic about whether/how I was doing deep POV and yet showing, not telling. Ahh! I’m better today, but whoa.) Progress is slower than I wanted it to be. I’ve cut some extraneous characters and scenes. I’ve also tried to start in the action and not before the story starts. In many places, I’m not even changing that much, I’m just contemplating it…perhaps too much? And that’s how I knew I was doing it in a way that wasn’t working for me.

I finally broke down yesterday and made myself a chart so I can cross off chapters I’ve completed. I’ll likely print it again for additional passes. It’s taped to a wall, sort-of in my face, but not obnoxious. It will help me see progress. Because for the past couple of weeks I’ve been stuck. I’m trying to do too much as I go through my story.


So, with today being a new day I have a new plan:

1) go through my draft checking for story first (chapter by chapter)
2) then another pass for line edits
3) address copy edits, probably with a hard copy version

Ah, it looks so simple, doesn’t it? Yeah, nope. What I’m trying to get to is the idea of multiple passes, not the best-editing-fix-all-the-stuff-I-need-to-now mindset I think I was holding onto, even though I know better. It’s like I let my inner editor out and she went a little nuts. Must Fix All The Things! Down, girl!

I still love my story and my characters. I want to polish them up and get them out there, but only when they’re ready. But I need a different approach to editing than the one I learned for drafting. Plunging in–writing-wise–worked for me. Plunging in to edit is too much. Smaller goals, setting a timer, focused edits, etc. will help me get through it instead of quibbling to myself over changes I’m making. I’m not even sure these changes would matter to anyone but me and that’s how I know they’re too much to do all at once.

So what have I been up to while I ponder and consider and read another (excellent) craft book? I’ve started writing the next book in the series. So, WIP #3. I’ve put together rough sketches for plot and I’ve written the opening scene. Sometimes getting into the next step helps me finish the one(s) I’m stuck on.

And with that in mind, since I HAZ GOALS, I also set up my QueryTracker account. Gulp. Hee-hee.

But, seriously, I want to get to the stage of querying. I even started writing drafts of queries.

Through all of this, I have a self-imposed deadline. I’ve got time, but as with many things in life, it takes longer than it takes. So, working backwards from my deadline has been an effective strategy for other things in my life. Here’s hoping and planning that it works well for my writing too.

Goodness, have I missed blogging! It helps me clear my thoughts. Of course, Inner Editor heaped on the guilt, having me think I didn’t have time to blog. Pish! It’s what gets it done that matters.

Note to self: slow down, take multiple passes, and maintain forward motion.

What are your best editing tips?

Feel free to share: